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Taiwan's KMT to consider replacing presidential candidate

[TAIPEI] Taiwan's ruling party called an emergency meeting to consider replacing its presidential nominee after she fell further behind her opponent in public opinion polls.

With just three months until election day, Kuomintang Chairman Eric Chu presided over a meeting of party elders on Wednesday that called an extraordinary party congress to determine if Hung's nomination should be rescinded, and whether Chu should be nominated instead, the Taipei-based Apple Daily reported.

The ruling party in July selected Hung Hsiu-chu - the second-highest ranking lawmaker in Taiwan's legislature and a former teacher - to succeed President Ma Ying-jeou.

January's election could have broad repercussions for Taiwan's relations with China, which have blossomed during Ma's two terms in office. Hung has been trailing opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party doesn't accept that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are part of one country. The Communist Party in Beijing sees that understanding as crucial to improving ties across the Taiwan Strait.

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Some 21 per cent of 1,130 respondents to a TVBS poll conducted this month supported Hung, compared with 46 per cent for Tsai, the cable network said Tuesday. Legislators up for election have been concerned about the negative impact of Hung's candidacy, Chu said in comments carried on Sanlih E-Television Wednesday.

Reeling from record losses in local elections in November, the party found itself short of a candidate with an established profile before an internal party deadline this past summer. Hung was nominated after Chu and other senior KMT leaders - including Vice President Wu Den-yih and legislature leader Wang Jin-pyng- chose not to run.