Tue, Dec 30, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Chen has closed Lien's lead: polls

CLOSE RACE After a week of grueling campaigning, polls indicate that the gap in support between Chen Shui-bian and Lien Chan has virtually disappeared


Two major newspaper polls yesterday reported that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was locked in a tight election race with his rival, while a third media survey said that Chen lagged behind by 11 percentage points.

The polls followed a week of tough campaigning ahead of the March 20 election. Chen accused the opposition of illegally acquiring public property, while his rivals alleged he leaked classified information that led to the arrest of spies in China.

After trailing by four percentage points last week, Chen netted the support of 36 percent of those polled, compared with 34 percent for his rival, Lien Chan (連戰) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the China Times said. The rest were undecided.

Another popular newspaper, the United Daily News, reported that Chen was slightly behind but was gaining ground on Lien.

The paper's poll measured Chen's support at 38 percent, one percentage point lower than last week. But Lien lost 3 percentage points, sliding to 41 percent, the paper said.

A third poll, by TVBS cable news, reported that Lien and his running mate, James Soong (宋楚瑜), were supported by 45 percent of those surveyed.

Chen and his partner, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), had 34 percent, TVBS said. The rest were undecided.

The TVBS numbers were unchanged from a week ago, the poll said.

Last week, Chen's campaign accused the KMT of illegally acquiring public property when it was the ruling party.

The KMT said it has returned much of the property, and argued that the rest had been legally purchased.

But the TVBS poll said that 40 percent of those polled were unsatisfied with the way the KMT has handled the property issue.

Only 23 percent were satisfied and 37 percent said they had no opinion or declined to answer the question, TVBS said.

Another recent major campaign issue involved a report last week in Hong Kong's Ming Pao daily, which said the Taiwanese president gave a campaign speech that contained classified information about the locations of missile bases in China. The secrets helped China track down spies who collected the intelligence, the report said.

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency later reported that 24 Taiwanese suspected spies and 19 Chinese were arrested and that they had confessed.

Chen's campaign dismissed the reports as Chinese propaganda.

But Lien accused Chen of leaking military secrets, and the TVBS poll said 49 percent of those surveyed didn't think the president should have released the information.

Thirty-three percent thought Chen was right to make his comments, while 18 percent had no opinion, TVBS reported.

The TVBS telephone poll, taken on Dec. 25 and Dec. 26, involved 1,464 responses and had a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points, the network said.

In the United Daily News telephone survey, conducted from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26, pollsters interviewed 1,426 people.

The poll had a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points, the paper said.

The China Times polled 1,070 people by telephone on Dec. 25 and Dec. 26, and the survey had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, the paper said.

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