Tue, Nov 23, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen plays the `ideology card' before election

GREEN AND BLUE It may not have worked for his mayoral re-election bid, but Chen Shui-bian's focus on independence versus unification may pay off in next month's elections

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has been deploying various ploys during the latter half of the legislative election campaign with the aim of pursuing the protection of Tai-wan's political rights and strength-ening Taiwanese consciousness, and thereby aligning himself with mainstream public opinion to win voters for the Democratic Progre-ssive Party's (DPP) candidates.

"According to an internal DPP survey, the pan-green camp will have difficulties winning a majority of seats in the legislature. So Chen has been working hard to stir up the passions of supporters, as well as to sway swing voters and those who tend to support independent candidates," said an official in charge of the DPP's internal surveys.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that given the current political atmosphere the pan-green camp -- the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) -- should be able to beat the pan-blue grouping of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the People First Party (PFP) and the New Party.

But the prospects for the DPP are not as bright as they were; it might have to rely on the independent candidates to reach a stable majority.

Political analysts pointed out the pan-blue camp's blocking of government policies with its legislative majority, violent street protests after the presidential election and the KMT's procrastination on internal reform have cost the alliance a great number of supporters. Various surveys have indicated that support for the pan-blue camp has fallen from nearly 50 percent to just over 30 percent.

"Voters are very forgetful. After President Chen's re-election, various policies have been hanging in mid-air for half a year, it is no wonder that the public feels disappointed," said Lee Yung-chih (李永熾), a pro-independence group leader and history professor at National Taiwan University.

"So now the level of support for both camps approaching the same mark again," he said.

"Chen is trying to remind the public about the chaotic state after March 20. At rallies, he continually makes controversial statements, including allegations of a `soft coup' by retired military officers, the unfair handling of Legislative Yuan affairs by the Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平); as well as a pan-blue camp Web site's encouragement of shooting the president. These are all `crisis cards' he can play," Lee said.

He also said that Chen's strategy has been successful with supporters in central and southern Taiwan.

Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine, said that Chen's saying that the KMT needs to alter its party emblem is a stronger stance on political revolution and awakening of Taiwanese mainstream consciousness.

Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences at Academia Sinica, said that when Chen was campaigning for DPP candidate Lee Ying-yuan (李應元)in the 2002 Taipei City mayoral election he tried to stimulate ethnic differences and used independence versus unification tactics, but those tactics had no great effect on the race.

"It's a national election this time. The DPP has set a goal of exceeding a majority. So of course Chen can continue to call upon the `Taiwanese consciousness' because his target audience is those outside of the greater Taipei area," Hsu said.

Hsu also said that Chen's tactics are controversial, just like US President George W. Bush's campaign call for traditional American values. This draws opposition, but the question is: Do the opposition parties have more effective or classier methods?

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