Taipei-In the longtime Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) stronghold of Kaohsiung, the Kuomintang (KMT) is pinning its legislative election hopes on its presidential nominee, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (???), to prevent another shutout.
In the most recent legislative elections in 2016, the DPP crushed the KMT by a 61-34 percent vote margin in taking all nine of the city's seats in Taiwan's national Legislative Yuan.
In the January 2020 elections, only eight seats in Kaohsiung will be up for grabs after redistricting.
This time, the KMT is hoping its success in the November 2018 municipal elections will carry over to the 2020 legislative races.
KMT candidate Han scored a shocking victory in the city's mayoral race by a 54-45 percent margin, leaving a KMT mayor in charge of the city for the first time in 20 years, and the party captured a plurality of seats in the city council.
Yet that may not help the KMT. Relentlessly attacked by the DPP at both the central government and city council levels and accused of having done little in his short time as mayor, Han has become one of Taiwan's least popular city leaders and is facing a recall movement in Kaohsiung.
Officials from both parties told CNA that the mixed results of the last two elections offered reason for both confidence and caution in the upcoming contest.
According to Chuang Chi-wang (???), chairman of the KMT's Kaohsiung party headquarters, Han's election as mayor and nomination as the KMT presidential candidate have given a major shot of confidence to the party's local candidates.
The KMT should not have a problem winning four to five seats in Kaohsiung, Chuang predicted.
Meanwhile, DPP Kaohsiung headquarters Chairman Chan Chia-ping (???) told CNA that following last year's shock election defeat, the party worked to shore up its grassroots efforts and make early preparations for 2020.
In assessing his party's chances, Chan echoed recent comments by Premier Lai Ching-te (???), who said the DPP must set a goal of defending all eight seats.
One of the biggest unknowns in this election will be influence of the fledgling Taiwan People's Party (TPP), which is running candidates in Districts 1, 3, 5 and 8 and hopes to appeal to voters frustrated with the two-party dominance of Taiwan's political system.
A local DPP source told CNA it was unclear whether TPP leader and Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je (???) will hold any political sway in southern Taiwan, and whether his popularity will carry over to the candidates his party has put forward.
In terms of specific races, District 3 is expected to be highly competitive, with eight-term KMT lawmaker Huang Chao-shun (???) looking to get the better of DPP incumbent Liu Shyh-fang (???).
The district, which includes the traditionally KMT-leaning military dependents' villages in Zuoying District, has generally been one of the areas of the city where KMT candidates have fared relatively well.
Another 2016 rematch will take place in District 5, where DPP incumbent Lee Kun-tse (???), the nephew of former Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (??), will face off against KMT Kaohsiung City Council member Huang Po-lin (???).
This year, however, TPP candidate Eva Lee (???) will also vie for the seat, adding uncertainty to the race's outcome.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel