Mon, Aug 13, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Parties assess shifting political scene

LEGISLATIVE COMPETITION Surveyors of the nation's political landscape worry the creation of the TSU may result in a net loss of seats for both the KMT and DPP

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Though the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) plans to align with the DPP after the year-end elections, observers surveying the political landscape say the new group may wind up doing more harm than good.

A DPP election strategist, who spoke to the Taipei Times yesterday on the condition of anonymity, said the new group's 39 legislative candidates may result in a loss of seats for both the KMT and the DPP.

"It's quite obvious now that some of the TSU candidates ... may steal votes from the DPP candidates," the campaign strategist said.

"So the worst-case scenario is a `lose-lose' situation, meaning the [TSU candidates] drag down along with them those DPP candidates who are on the brink of getting elected."

The goal of the TSU is to win 35 seats in the legislature. Should the DPP win 85 seats, that would give the two parties control of the 225-member lawmaking body.

Because the TSU candidates enjoy neither the advantages of incumbency nor high popularity ratings, they will have to rely on grass-roots support to get elected, the strategist said.

In particular, the strategist said, the TSU's Hsiao Kuan-yu (蕭貫譽) and Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙) are likely to siphon away votes from the DPP's Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) and Chang Ching-fang (張清芳) in Taipei County. In Taichung, TSU candidate Ho Min-hao (何敏豪) poses a challenge for the DPP's three novice candidates.

But while the TSU has set its sights on winning at least 35 seats, DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is less optimistic.

In an interview with the Liberty Times on Saturday, Hsieh said that although he had high hopes for cooperation between the TSU and DPP after the elections, he doesn't expect the new party will win any more than 10 seats.

Still, other analysts note that the TSU remains more of a worry for the KMT than it does the DPP.

Many pro-Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) legislators are sticking with the KMT -- unwilling to give up the party's abundant cash resources -- and are seeking re-election as KMT members. These pro-Lee members will also be competing with TSU candidates for the pro-Taiwan vote.

According to KMT legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖), that means being a pro-Lee KMT member just got tougher.

"They are now in an awkward position, as they face pressure from within the KMT -- due to their close relations with Lee -- and fierce competition from outside the party," Chen said.

"The new party's candidates may be incapable of getting elected, but they're also capable of costing their competitors the race," the lawmaker added.

Chen forecast that the TSU's Chen Chien-min (陳建銘), Wu Mao-hsiung (吳茂雄) and Tsai Chong-ji (蔡重吉) were likely to steal between 3,000 and 10,000 votes, respectively, from their KMT rivals.

The TSU's impact on the People First Party and New Party is said to be negligible, though not everyone agrees.

Liu I-de (劉一德), the DPP's former director of organizational development, said the new party has also encroached upon the territory of the PFP.

"The TSU has successfully intercepted quite a few hopeful candidates who might have sought the PFP's nomination if the TSU had not been founded," Liu said.

Liu said that if the PFP fails to field winning candidates, the party of James Soong (宋楚瑜) may end up existing solely for his presidential ambitions and fail to exert any political influence.

And while much of the attention recently has been focused on the TSU's creation, analysts note that the party remains untested.

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