The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday kicked off its nationwide campaign for the Jan. 12 legislative elections with a rally in Kaohsiung, aiming to win at least 50 of the 113 seats in the next legislature.
With the theme "Keeping Kao-hsiung and Safeguarding Taiwan," the evening assembly drew a large crowd. It was held one day after Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) won an appeal confirming her victory in last year's mayoral election.
The campaign troupe, led by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who also serves as party chairman, will stage 50 rallies around the country before the election.
A number of DPP heavyweights, including DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), gathered at the rally to drum up support for the party's legislative candidates.
Hsieh shared the stage with Chen Shui-bian last night, marking their first public appearance since reports emerged that the two were at odds over cross-strait economic policy.
Speaking at the rally, former DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun lashed out at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for finding fault with the Taiwan High Court's ruling in the Kaohsiung mayoral election and the Central Election Commission's decision yesterday to hand out referendum and election ballots to voters together.
"From all these things we can see that the KMT is a party that disregards the judiciary and democracy. Only by supporting the DPP can we defend Taiwan's democracy," Yu said.
Scheduled to be held together with the election is a DPP-initiated referendum on recovering the KMT's "stolen assets," which it had obtained during decades of authoritarian rule.
Chen Shui-bian said last week that campaign rallies would center on repossessing more than NT$200 billion (US$6.2 billion) in "stolen assets" owned by the KMT, as the DPP would invest the money in education.
Hsieh urged the crowd to beat the KMT again in next year's legislative election and presidential poll on March 22.
"The KMT does not know how to admit defeat. It blamed the [319 shooting] for its loss in the 2004 presidential election, and now [last year's] Kaohsiung mayoral election. Let's teach the KMT how to admit defeat. Use your votes to teach the KMT a lesson," Hsieh said.
From Kaohsiung, the campaign moves to Tainan, where it is holding three rallies today.
The KMT has also put forward an "anti-corruption" referendum to be held together with the legislative election.
The referendum aims to give the legislature the power to investigate the president and his or her subordinates involved in alleged cases of corruption.