Mon, Nov 22, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen's `soft coup' claim a part of DPP campaigning

TACTICS Although the president's coup claims remain unsubstantiated, the accusation was useful in directing attention to issues favorable to the DPP, analysts say

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters in Taitung County yesterday cheer and wave DPP flags at a campaign rally in support of pan-green candidates for next month's legislative elections.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent claim that the pan-blue initiated a "soft coup" has not only triggered a political shockwave across party-lines, it also strategically landed the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the offensive, dominating discussion in the run-up to next month's legislative elections.

With the legislative elections just 19 days away, the "soft coup" topic has captured the media spotlight. The campaign strategy of the DPP is becoming apparent as it seeks to highlighting the lack of democratic credentials displayed by the pan-blue camp after losing the March 20 presidential election.

"Talk of the soft coup deepens the public's impression of the chaotic launched by the pan-blue camp after the presidential election," political commentator Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏) said.

Yang was referring to the series of protests staged by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) in the wake of the March 20 presidential election, held mostly outside the Presidential Office, as well as attacks on police led by several pan-blue legislators and their supporters. Pan-blue protesters also used rocks, sticks and bricks as they tried to break into a local district court and the Central Election Commission office.

During a Nov. 14 campaign stop, Chen alleged that several high-ranking and retired military officers had attempted to persuade other military officials to either resign or take sick leave in an attempt to shake troop morale and further stir up post-presidential election social upheaval.

Fortunately, the "coup" failed thanks to the successful depoliticization of the nation's armed forces, according to Chen.

"By directing the public to remember images of the turmoil caused by the pan-blue camp after the election, the pan-green camp is appealing to voters to end such disorder by using their votes," Yang said.

Yang's observation was in line with remarks made by many DPP officials.

"The pan-green camp is making an appeal for voter support so we can achieve our goal of winning a majority in the new legislature and secure greater progress in reform," DPP Information and Culture Department Director Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said.

In line with its campaign strategy, the DPP's first TV campaign spot, launched last week, attempted to convey the message the the pan-blue camp lacks a democratic spirit.

The TV ad, with its soccer game setting, delineated how "team blue" kept on contesting the referee's ruling that "team green" had won the game. The commercial is effective in conveying the message of the pan-blue camp's lack of sportsmanship.

Since last month, the DPP set out on four campaign tours, each led by DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), Premier Yu Shyi-kun, Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷). According to DPP officials, the tours had thus far not only achieved positive results in opinion polls, but also helped convey to the public the image of unity in the pan-green camp.

Debuting his own campaign tour two weeks ago while stumping for DPP legislative candidates, Chen had high expectations of himself, DPP officials said.

Campaigning under the slogan of "Ensuring peace and winning happiness," Chen is slated to attend at least 42 rallies nationwide in all 27 constituencies in the run-up to the legislative elections, according to DPP officials.

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