Sun, May 15, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Blue camp gets mediocre support at the ballot box

FALLING SHORT Although the National Assembly poll is not regarded as an accurate gauge of public opinion, the KMT and the PFP nevertheless had a poor showing

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

The pan-blue camp received a reality check in the National Assembly elections yesterday, with the People First Party (PFP) falling drastically short of its expectations, securing a mere 18 seats, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) took an expected 117 seats.

Both parties in the pan-blue camp had originally expected their chairmans' recent high-profile trips to China would give them a boost in the elections. The KMT's aspirations to become yesterday's biggest taker and the PFP's hopes to be the third-largest party in the National Assembly were thwarted, as the PFP won only 6.11 percent of the vote yesterday, while the KMT fell behind its rival, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), receiving 38.92 percent of the vote.

The DPP came out on top, securing 42.5 percent of the vote and 127 seats.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday placed a positive spin on the overall result and called on the PFP to cooperate with the KMT.

"This election shows that there is over 80 percent support from the people for the constitutional reforms [passed last August]. Although voting turnout this time hit a new low, it is hard to accurately estimate the level of popular support for each party," Lien said yesterday.

"The legislative elections last year were a more accurate gauge of voter opinion, but the KMT experienced some growth in this election," the KMT chairman added, pointing out that KMT won 31.9 percent of the popular vote in the legislative elections.

"This shows that Taiwan is heading towards a two-party political system," Lien said.

Lien yesterday dismissed any possible collaboration with the DPP, choosing instead to focus on pan-blue unity.

"We call on all those parties that believe in the doctrines of founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) [the PFP and New Party] to unite together. What is the use of having scattered numbers of three or four votes? We are willing to talk about cooperation," Lien said.

As votes were counted yesterday afternoon, it became clear that not only did the KMT not achieve its goal of being the top party in the National Assembly, the PFP had performed below its expectations. While the PFP clearly fell short of its hopes, the KMT gained exactly the number of seats it had expected.

Possibly deflecting votes away from the KMT in yesterday's poll was the relative similarity between its name (中國國民黨) and that of the Chinese People's Party (中國民眾黨). The party, which was a virtual unknown prior to the election yesterday, won 1.08 percent of the vote yesterday, possibly due to confusion.

The party, which had nominated only four candidates for the National Assembly, ended up winning three seats yesterday.

Commenting on the PFP's unexpected low showing, PFP Secretary-General Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生) said last night that the party humbly accepted the result, and plans to conduct a serious overhaul of its policies.

Chin said that it would be irresponsible to extend a mandate to representatives elected by less than one-quarter of the population to handle the constitutional reforms.

"Such an election result, produced by a rough election procedure, may trigger a constitutional crisis," Chin said.

It is unfair to a party like the PFP, as over 70 percent of the eligible voters were absent from yesterday's polling, Chin said.

An election with such a low turnout can not really reflect any shift in an individual party's support rate, Chin said.

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