Tue, Apr 06, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Analysts: Splits among pan-blues are growing

AFP , TAIPEI

Divisions have started to appear within Taiwan's opposition as the parties contesting President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) razor-thin election victory push their conflicting interests, analysts say.

While opposition hardliners have insisted that anti-Chen protests in the capital should continue, moderates fear that further demonstrations will alienate their middle-class supporters who are calling for stability, observers say.

And they believe that the under-fire Chen, leader of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), could cash in on the apparent split.

"The noises from the opposition have provided the DPP a chance to reduce the pressure by switching the limelight from the disputed election to the emerging conflict within the opposition," said Wu Tung-yeh (吳東野), professor of National Chengchi University's Institute of International Relations.

Since the March 20 ballot, tens of thousands of opposition supporters have protested Chen's victory. He beat his opponent, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), by less than 30,000 votes, or 0.22 percent of the vote.

Lien and his allies have demanded an independent inquiry into the election-eve shooting of Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), amid claims it was staged. The opposition says the shooting, in which the pair sustained only minor wounds, helped to swing the vote behind the DPP.

The opposition has also demanded an amendment to existing election laws and a recount of the ballots. Legal wrangling over the recount is under way.

But while some KMT politicians have been more outspoken in their criticism than others, the most prominent attacks have come from the People First Party (PFP), which joined the KMT in order to challenge Chen in the polls.

"The PFP tends to be radical," said Emile Sheng (盛治仁), a political science professor of Soochow University.

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