On the eve of the nation's sixth legislative elections, and with 225 seats at stake, the four major parties each held rallies in a last-ditch effort to win support and fire up their voters.
Democratic Progressive Party
With the legislative campaign entering its final hours, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday spent a busy day criss-crossing the country to drum up support for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates.
In the wake of Thursday's events -- a van packed with gasoline cans exploded into a fireball outside the Taipei Railway Station and four suspected bombs were found nearby -- police and other officials in charge of protecting the president yesterday stepped up security measures and heightened their alert wherever Chen appeared.
After stumping in seven locations nationwide during a frenetic last day, Chen reached the end of his long campaign trail last night with a final rally at Taipei City's Shipai Junior High School, in a district that has traditionally been a pan-blue stronghold.
At the rally, Chen highlighted the significance of today's elections, saying they represent a crucial struggle to safeguard the nation's democracy. Chen reaffirmed his determination to push for the passage of 10 major legislative bills if the pan-green camp wins a majority today.
Chen also repeated his pledge to realize "five promises" during the rest of his term in office if the pan-greens win today. The five promises are promoting cross-party cooperation, strengthening partnerships between central and local governments, giving Taiwan a new constitution, streamlining the administration and forming a new Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development in an attempt to stabilize the cross-strait situation.
In the wake of Thursday's explosion and bomb threats, Chen told the crowd that "we must condemn and oppose violence."
Saying that the most beautiful thing about Taiwan is that it is a democratic society where everyone is free to express one's thoughts and opinions, Chen said "when one has a different opinion from us, we can debate or argue about it, but we can never resort to the use of violence, force or bombs and hurt innocent people."
With that said, Chen told the crowd that "that's why I am appealing to you ... to give Taiwan a chance for love, a chance for national unity."
Referring to remarks made by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
"Let's use love and democratic ballots to end the chaos stirred up by the pan-blue camp, to end the absurdity of the party-state phenomenon and to end the Constitution, which is outdated," Chen said to the crowd.
"Let's use love and democratic ballots to rewrite Taiwan's history," he added. "You have given the KMT a chance to dominate the legislature for more than 60 years. I hereby appeal to you to let the pan-green camp have a chance to be a majority in the legislature and carry out work to serve you all."
Other DPP political heavyweights who took the stage to stump for the legislative hopefuls last night included Vice President Annette Lu (