Mon, Nov 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

DPP goes negative in bid to boost its flagging support

ON THE ATTACK The DPP is taking aim at the integrity of the Chinese Nationalist Party and its candidates in an effort to prop up sagging support from the party faithful

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Supporters of Chiu Tai-san, the Democratic Progressive Party's candidate for Taichung County commissioner, yesterday dress up like ancient Chinese gods during a rally held against gambling machines in the county.


With election day less than two weeks away, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is trying to turn the tables on the pan-blue camp by harshly attacking the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and its candidates for being corrupt.

The negative campaign strategy is tied in with DPP heavyweights' support on the campaign trail, with the overall goal of reversing the party's flagging fortunes and ensuring that the DPP grabs eight to 11 local government seats, according to party officials and political observers.

Because of the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal involving former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) and other party officials, the DPP is suffering from record low levels of support, which has hurt the campaigns of every DPP candidate, incumbents included. According to the DPP's survey center, the party has slipped about five points in Chiayi City, Chunghua County, Nantou County, Pingtung County, Ilan County and Taipei County -- pan-green strongholds now controlled by the DPP.

To try to reverse hose poll trends, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) set out on a four-week truck tour around the country, beginning Oct. 22, to make a direct appeal to the grassroots. At every stop, Chen explained the government's policies and apologized to voters for the recent scandals. Although Chen's truck speeches attracted sparser audiences than in the past, and the initial response was tepid, by the time the tour wrapped up last week, the party was claiming Chen had energized the party's base.

"President Chen's juicy truck speeches inspired passion in traditional supporters and will drive them to vote for the DPP on election day, according to our recent polls," DPP secretary-general Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said. "The most important thing for the DPP right now is to urge our traditional supporters to come out and vote. It's the key to winning."

Lee said that although some DPP supporters were disappointed at the party's involvement in the KRTC scandal, they would never vote for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Therefore, Lee said, the DPP has planned a succession of large-scale campaign rallies in the last two weeks to get core supporters to vote, in part by persuading them that the party will mend its ways.

To achieve this, the DPP has prepared a three-pronged campaign strategy, said DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦).

First, the party is hammering away at the fact that KMT's retired high-ranking officials still enjoy the 18 percent preferential interest rate for civil servants. The DPP aims to use this issue to highlight the KMT's privileged culture and warn voters that the KMT's party-state system is unfortunately still alive and well. This issues has already received positive feedback farmers and laborers, Cheng said.

The second tactic is to expose the KMT's individual candidate's corruption cases to remind voters of these candidates' integrity problems, Cheng said.

For example, in Taipei County, DPP candidate Luo Wen-chia (羅文嘉) has hammered away at his rival, the KMT's Chou His-wei (周錫瑋), who used his power as a legislator to erase a NT$12 million (US$449,210) debt owed to the Taiwan Business Bank. In Taichung City, DPP candidate Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) has attacked Taichung Mayor Jason Hu's (胡志強) for receiving too generous a pension. In Taichung County, DPP candidate Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) exposed the KMT's sitting commissioner Huang Chung-shen (黃仲生) for issuing 100 permits to allow illegal gambling video arcades to operate in Taichung County. In Chunghua County, KMT candidate Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) was suspected of involvement in corrupt procurements for the Taiwan Railway Administration.

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