Sun, Aug 03, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Hualien Election: Cooperation credited with giving Hsieh win

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN HUALIEN

The results of the by-election for Hualien County commissioner had those in the upper echelons of the KMT and PFP breathing a sigh of relief after days of strenuous campaigning for their joint nominee Hsieh Shen-shan (謝深山).

The electoral victory scored by Hsieh last night illustrated not only that Hualien County -- as it has been for the past five decades -- is a KMT stronghold, but also gave a-boost to the KMT-PFP alliance.

Hsieh won a total of 73,710 votes, more than the combined total of DPP candidate You Ying-lung's (游盈隆) 41,508 votes and KMT splinter candidate Wu Kuo-tung's (吳國棟) 26,205 votes.

Several factors contributed to Hsieh's landslide victory, said political analysts.

"One of the major factors contributing to Hsieh's electoral win was that the pan-blue camp successful played up its tactical voting strategy," said Ger Yeong-kuang (葛永光), a professor of political science at National Taiwan University.

Although various public opinion pollsters before the election had pointed to Hsieh as the victor, the alliance camp had been wary that Hsieh could be undone by support for KMT renegade Wu -- given the fact that both Hsieh and Wu's voter bases overlapped -- as they battled it out for Hualien's traditional pan-blue support.

As a result, the Hsieh camp resorted to the "save-dump" strategy, appealing to supporters to "dump Wu to save Hsieh."

One day before voting was to take place, the Hsieh camp made a last-minute effort to win such strategic voting by running a letter on the front page of major Chinese-language newspapers. The Letter appealed to Hualien residents not to waste their votes on Wu.

The letter, addressed to Wu and pan-blue supporters, said, "Given various poll results, Wu's chances of electoral victory are small. One vote for Wu means one step toward helping the pan-green camp."

"While the letter itself may have helped give the final push in swaying votes from Wu to Hsieh, the fact that the tactical voting could play out successfully was mainly due to the all-out effort by KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜)," said Ger, referring to the electioneering carried out by a number of KMT and PFP high-ranking officials to consolidate votes from the county's pan-blue supporters.

Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien's (余政憲) order to have sentries at 24-hour checkpoints on the county's major roads and intersections to crack down on election bribery had worked against You, Ger added.

"The overt presence of a large number of police officers made locals feel insecure," said Ger, referring to the more than 400 police officers dispatched by Yu's ministry in the run-up to the election.

Those 400 police from other counties were in addition to a total of 1,277 local policemen assigned to anti-vote-buying duties.

"Yu's order angered the Hualien people and as a result of that, in part drove those undecided voters away from the DPP's You to Hsieh," Ger said.

Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), a political observer and editor in chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine, said that the pan-blue camp's victory also proved that it had a tight grip on the Hualien mayoralty.

Hualien has been a KMT stronghold for half a century. No non-KMT candidate has ever won the commissioner's seat.

"The by-election result showed that Hualien's traditional party preference has not faded," Chin said.

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