Mon, Dec 13, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Saturday not a defeat for DPP, analysts say

FALSE EXPECTATIONS Although the election was taken as a huge blow to the pan-green camp, the DPP increased its vote share and picked up two legislative seats

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

While the results of Saturday's legislative elections can be considered a setback for the pan-green camp, the results do not necessarily indicate a defeat for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), analysts said yesterday.

Speaking at the "Implications of the 2004 Legislative Election in Taiwan" forum in Taipei co-hosted by the Institute for Policy Research, foreign and local academics discussed the factors behind the election results and the possible impact on the future direction and leadership of the four major political parties.

Although the pan-blue alliance, which won a total of 114 out of 225 seats, has portrayed the election results as a major coup, the fact that the DPP managed to increase the number of its seats in the legislature from 87 to 89 and its vote share from 38.7 percent in the 2001 legislative elections to 39.6 percent Saturday, shows that the election was not the significant defeat suggested by both camps' reaction Saturday night, panelists said.

"While the results mark a disappointment for the pan-green camp, the reality is that the political map of Taiwan is not changed after the election. The two camps are still about the same size," said Liu Yi-chou (劉義周), the director of National Chengchi University's Election Study Center, yesterday.

A major reason behind the pan-green camp's failure to win a majority was its over-nomination of candidates, analysts said. In comparison to the pan-blue camp, which nominated only 116 candidates this year, the pan-green camp nominated 122.

Saying that the legislative election was the most stable election in Taiwan, Liu pointed out that in most past legislative elections, the DPP had continually increased its vote share, but by no more than 5 percent in each election.

The DPP's vote share was 28.26 percent in 1989, 33.03 percent in 1992, 33.17 percent in 1995 and 29.57 percent in 1998, before jumping to 38.7 percent in 2001.

In addition to the pan-blue camp's more conservative nomination strategy, the fact that the New Party nominated only eight candidates this year, compared to 42 in 2001, added to an even distribution of pan-blue votes, noted Dafydd Fell, a visiting academic at National Sun Yat-Sen University.

Panelists also focused on the pan-green camp's choice of issues in this year's election as a possible reason for Saturday's results.

"The DPP defeated itself," said Chi Nan University public policy professor Byron Weng (翁松燃) yesterday, adding that the pan-green camp's misjudgment of the support they had from the electorate was a key element of its defeat.

"The DPP overestimated its own potential [to win a majority] and their affiliation with the people," Wend said. "Because the pan-blue camp made so many mistakes after the March 20 presidential election, all media pundits were predicting that the pan-green camp would win a majority. This went to the DPP's head, which judged the [electorate] situation to be more polarized than it really was."

That overconfidence led President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the DPP's front man in the legislative campaign, in his decision to abandon the moderate stance he took during the March 20 presidential campaign. Centrist voters may have been alienated by comments such as the pan-green camp's characterization of Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), the founding father of the Republic of China, as a foreigner.

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