Last Thursday, Taiwan High Court judges ruled against a pan-blue camp lawsuit that accused President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of being unfairly elected on March 20. Many pan-green candidates and strategists considered the verdict a bullish indicator as to their prospects in next month's legislative elections, yet some candidates said how much the pan-green camp benefits from the verdict will be determined by the reaction of the blue-camp's leadership.
"This verdict confirms the legitimacy of the president and the vice president ... and the timing could not be better," Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Information and Culture Department Director Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said yesterday.
"[The verdict] is favorable to the pan-green camp's legislative election chances, but we don't dare to say how much this will benefit us since there are so many variables to the elections," Cheng said.
"The fact that the blue camp lost its case did, however, encourage our supporters and the momentum of the campaign," Cheng added.
Indeed, although the DPP's original campaign theme was "terminating Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜)," it was vetoed by President Chen Shui-bian.
Since the pan-blue camp made it clear that it would appeal the verdict, many DPP strategists think it is appropriate to angle campaigns with the theme of "teaching Lien and Soong a democracy lesson with votes." Such an appeal echoed with pan-green supporters and their strong distaste for Lien and Soong -- a fervor that could became an effective campaign theme.
Cheng also said DPP campaign advertisements will not especially focus on the pan-blue camp's stubborn attitude towards the High Court's verdict, but it will stress the importance of maintaining the credibility of the justice system and its value in a democracy, Cheng said.
"However, if Lien and Soong continue to talk negatively about the lawsuit or the president, it would only alienate swing voters which will be reflected in the elections," Cheng added.
A DPP opinion poll found that mainstream public opinion sides with the decision of the judiciary, as well as an aversion of endless political squabbling, according to DPP survey center chief Pan I-hsuan (潘儀瑄).
While Pan said that she didn't think that the pan-blue's losing the suit will affect its position in the short term, if pan-blue supporters continue to act irrationally by "boycotting" the verdict or even rioting, then this would drive away moderate voters.
"At this point, the pan-blue's behavior could be persuasive evidence for voters to support the pan-green camp and end the pan-blue camp's majority in the legislature," Pan said.
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus whip Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘), who is campaigning for a seat in Taipei City, said that if the pan-blue camp refuses to accept the verdict, it will impact them at the polls. But he did not think such an impact would show in the Taipei City, which is considered a pan-blue stronghold.
"Compared with the result of the US presidential election, Lien and Soong should be ashamed of themselves for their anti-democratic conduct," Chen Chien-ming said.
"I think voters who live in southern Taiwan might react stronger to Lien and Soong's attitude than the pan-blue bigots in northern Taiwan."