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Mon, Nov 05, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Dec. 1 elections: TSU's 'top graduates' must make name for themselves

There is now less than a month to go before the legislative and local government elections and campaigning has gone into overdrive. While the DPP and the KMT are concentrating on domestic policy issues, the TSU is trying hard to make itself look less like a one-man show while the PFP is focusing on cross-strait relations

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) officials are saying the key to the party's success hinges on how effectively it shifts the public's love for Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to its candidates.

Since the party was formed in August, its only selling point has been the political legacy and charisma of the 78-year-old former president, who is viewed as the party's spiritual leader.

Lee's charm outshines that of most of the candidates -- the majority of whom are new faces on the political scene. Crowds gather at campaign events to see Lee, only to disperse once he leaves.

Aware of the obstacles faced by the candidates, Lee now calls them "the top graduates of the Lee Teng-hui School," saying "casting votes for them is tantamount to casting votes for me."

Shu Chin-chiang (蘇進強), the TSU's secretary-general, said that associating Lee with the TSU is the first stage of the party's campaign.

"The next wave is to highlight the candidates' individual qualities and Lee has recorded videos and cassettes to promote our 39 candidates."

Shu said Lee is not worried about the performance of the TSU's candidates but feels they have to prove their ability to the public.

Shifting topics to possible cooperation between the DPP and TSU in the final days of the campaign, Shu responded with reservation.

"We will respect Lee's freedom to campaign for whomever he likes under the basic principal that his support for the TSU remains."

Given their similar political ideologies, "pan-green" supporters have suggested that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Lee appear on the campaign stage together. Many DPP candidates have said they would support such cooperation, hoping Lee will stump for them.

But soon after the proposal was introduced, heavyweight politicians from both parties poured cold water on the idea. While the TSU is concerned that sharing Lee's legacy will weaken the party, the DPP is reluctant to lend support to the TSU, worried that such a move would stretch Chen's popularity too thin.

The TSU and Lee seemed to have forged a consensus after considering the proposal. On Saturday Lee said, "nobody [from the DPP] has invited me ... It's up to [the TSU] to decide how to respond if I receive an invitation."

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