Tue, Jul 20, 2004 - Page 3 News List

New group may be challenge for pan-blues

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The founder of the Taiwan Democracy School, Hsu Hsin-liang, left, and former DPP chairman, Shih Ming-teh, right, attend the press conference yesterday at the Red Playhouse in Taipei to celebrate the opening of the new group.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Members of the pan-blue camp have voiced mixed reactions to the newly-founded Taiwan Democratic School (TDS, 台灣民主學校), headed by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良).

Hsu founded the political group yesterday, calling it an alternative option for voters who are disappointed with both the nation's pan-green and pan-blue camps in the wake of the March 20 presidential election.

He said the purpose of the school is to promote Taiwan's long-term democratic education, and added that the school will, in the near future, register with the Ministry of the Interior as a political party and will nominate candidates for the year-end legislative elections.

Members of the group's administration include prominent film director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢), who is the president of TDS, former DPP National Assembly representative Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文), the group's vice president, as well as political commentator Wang Hsing-ching (王杏慶), National Taiwan University professor Hsia Chu-joe(夏鑄九) and writer Chu Ten-hsin (朱天心).

Given that these people have in the past exhibited an obvious tilt toward the pan-blue camp, some analysts say the participation of the group's candidates in the legislative elections would likely skim votes off of the pan-blue camp.

The weekly demonstrations spearheaded by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance after the presidential elections have turned off many moderate blue supporters, analysts say, and polls have indicated that the pan-blue camp has seen a decline in its support rates as a result.

"On top of that, given the current situation, in which the KMT, the PFP and the New Party are still struggling over their nomination schemes for the legislative elections, the formation of the Taiwan Democratic School is likely to add a new impetus to the pan-blue camp's overall electoral strategy," said Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), a political commentator and editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine, referring to the scheme agreed by the three pan-blue parties to nominate a certain number of candidates in each constituency, to prevent them from splitting the pan-blue vote.

"The participation of Hsu's group will have an impact on the pan-blue camp's nomination scheme," Chin said, saying that there were few votes for Hsu's group to seek, as the "pan-blue pie" is already mostly devoured between the KMT, the PFP and the New Party.

Chin's remarks were similar to concerns voiced by KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖).

"To be frank, the participation of these pan-blue camp `friends' in the year-end legislative elections will take away votes from fellow pan-blue camp candidates," Chen said, adding that it would be up to the voters to decide as to how many votes the new group will earn.

PFP Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said that he thinks the candidates to be nominated by the Taiwan Democratic School will be more likely "to ruin things than accomplish success [for the pan-blue camp]."

"What I mean is, while it would be hard for these candidates to be elected because of their lack of back-up and support from a political group, the possibility of them dragging down both the KMT and the PFP is pretty high," Chiu said.

Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), another PFP Legislator, however held a different view from Chiu.

Liu, noting that Hsu's group shared the KMT and the PFP's belief about the necessity of supervising the ruling party, said that the pan-blue camp should cease worrying about split-votes because of Hsu's group.

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