Ousted Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu will be relieved of his position and duties by Friday at the latest and the by-election for the new mayor will be held before Sept 12, within three months of Mr Han’s termination.
According to Taiwan’s Civil Servants Election and Recall Act, Mr Han, 62, who is from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), which traditionally favours close ties with China, will not be allowed to run for Kaohsiung mayor again in the next four years.
But the by-election will be put on hold should Mr Han and the KMT decide to file a recall lawsuit to challenge the results. A total of 939,090 people voted for Mr Han’s removal last Saturday – more than the number of people who voted for his mayoral election in November 2018.
Many of these residents in Kaohsiung, in the unprecedented recall vote, showed their disapproval over Mr Han’s unfulfilled campaign promises, as well as his taking months off for his presidential campaign last year just months after he was elected as Kaohsiung mayor.
After the vote, the KMT reasserted its opposition to Beijing, as well as a “Taiwan first” stance, recognising that the scale of the backlash also showed growing resentment of China’s actions and China’s preferred politicians.
The Executive Yuan – Taiwan’s Cabinet – will appoint an interim mayor for the time being, before candidates running for the mayoral vacancy emerge.
Local media outlets have reported on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s plans for the by-election, saying it will most likely ask current Vice-Premier Chen Chi-mai to run for Kaohsiung mayor again.
In the 2018 mayoral race, Mr Chen lost to Mr Han, who received 53.86 per cent of eligible votes to Mr Chen’s 44.8 per cent.
The KMT last Saturday night said it advised Mr Han against filing a recall lawsuit and that his team responded by promising to follow the party’s wishes.
“The Han-recall just ended… I think the best step for Mayor Han is to wait for things to settle. Mr Han included, the KMT included, should be reflecting hard (on the next steps),” said Mr Huang Tzu-che, deputy director of the KMT’s cultural and communications committee, last Saturday.
But Professor Fan Shih-ping, a political scientist at National Taiwan Normal University, thinks otherwise, saying: “He’ll (Mr Han) file the lawsuit because it takes about six months to process, and he wants to drag this out for as long as possible.”
Some reports in the local media have said Mr Han might seek to become the next KMT chairman next year, after incumbent chairman Chiang Chi-cheng’s term ends next May.
Prof Fan said: “I’m thinking he might even run for the next Taoyuan mayor. There are a great many military family villages in Taoyuan city. He can garner support from them.”
Last Saturday night, Kaohsiung city council speaker Hsu Kun-yuan fell to his death from his 17th-floor apartment. The police have yet to connect the incident directly to Mr Han’s removal, saying Mr Hsu’s death is still under investigation.