Wed, Nov 30, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Keelung race comes down to split blue vote

DIVIDED BLUES The KMT's candidate for Keelung Mayor is ahead in the polls, but he could end up losing if the blue vote splits evenly

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Although the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) incumbent has an edge in the tight Keelung mayor race, a split in the pan-blue vote will likely decide the outcome -- and could even hand the post to the Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) candidate, despite the seaport's traditionally pro-blue tinge.

According to a recent poll conducted on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 by the Liberty Times, the Taipei Times' sister newspaper, Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利) leads the race with 22.39 percent support, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) candidate Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) follows with 17.83 percent, and the People First Party's (PFP) candidate Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) trails with 16.22 percent.

However, fully 43.57 percent of respondents declined to state their preference in the poll -- a silent mass of voters that will likely be decisive.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Tuoh (王拓) said that Keelung residents say the key factor in the election is the split of the pan-blue vote between the KMT and PFP candidates, which could lead the TSU's Chen to victory. Wang noted that the DPP's Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) won the 1997 Keelung mayoral race because of just such a split between pan-blue voters.

As the DPP's nominee for the Keelung mayoral race, Wang withdrew from the race to support the TSU's Chen, though he will still be listed on Saturday's ballot. That withdrawal boosted the pan-green camp's chances in two races: in response to the DPP's goodwill in Keelung, the director of the TSU's organization department, Liu Yi-teh (劉一德), withdrew from the Chiayi mayoral race.

Among the three candidates, Hsu has the advantage of having been involved in Keelung politics for more than 30 years. He enjoys a strong political base in the city because of that long experience, and also has an edge as the incumbent in the race.

However, several polls in the past four years have also indicated low rates of support for Hsu -- among the lowest of all mayors and commissioners nationwide.

Earlier this month Hsu was suspected of involvement in a city government land purchase scandal, and his poll numbers dipped.

The TSU's Chen is trying to take advantage of the split on the pan-blue side and unite pan-green voters. To promote Chen's campaign, president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), have all made campaign visits to Keelung.

The PFP's Liou, meanwhile, has busied himself attacking Hsu's poor performance in office and his suspected involvement in the land purchase scandal, in a bid to attract disenchanted pan-blue voters.

Because the PFP has only a small number of candidates in Saturday's elections, PFP chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) was expected to focus his efforts on boosting Liou's campaign in its last few days.

Keelung City candidates:

Hsu Tsai-li 許財利

Party: Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)

Age:59

Education: BA from the National Open University

Political background:

1993-2001, Speaker of Keelung City Council

2001-2005, Keelung Mayor

Chen Chien-ming 陳建銘

Party: Taiwan Solidarity Union

Age: 44

Education: BA from Fu Jen Catholic University; PhD in management from the California School of Proessional Psychology

Political background:

2001-2004, Legislator from Taipei City

2005, TSU Secretary-General

Liu Wen-hsiung 劉文雄

Party: People First Party

Age: 51

Education: BA from National Chengchi University

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