The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential campaign team expressed confidence yesterday that it would win Greater Taichung, part of central Taiwan perceived by the party as the pivotal battleground of January’s presidential election.
Observers said DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the party’s presidential candidate, was facing an enormous challenge as her 11-day campaign trip traveled northwards and entered central Taiwan.
“I don’t feel people in central Taiwan have been any less passionate or supportive of the campaign than people in the south,” she told hundreds of flag-waving supporters in front of Jenn Lann Temple (鎮瀾宮) in Dajia (大甲).
Central Taiwan has not been receptive to the DPP in past elections. However, Su Jia-chyuan’s (蘇嘉全) narrow loss to Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the special municipality elections in November last year gave the DPP a glimmer of hope.
DPP supporters say that Su orchestrated a “miracle” in five months to rally from 30 percentage points behind and end up losing by less than three percentage points.
The effort was one of the reasons why Tsai picked Su as her running mate. That was also why Su has spent most of his time campaigning in the region since his nomination and why he had the confidence to tell supporters in Jhueifen (追分) and Longjing (龍井) that the DPP is looking to beat President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election, by 4 percentage points — about 38,000 votes — in the region formerly known as Taichung county and to win by one percentage point in the region formerly known as Taichung city.
Taichung County and Taichung City were merged to form Greater Taichung in December last year.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who is in charge of mobilization and Internet campaigning for Tsai’s campaign, agreed with Su, saying yesterday that the DPP has been able to generate even stronger support in the region than last year when Su was campaigning.
Some local politicians showed the same confidence, with DPP legislative candidate Kuo Chun-ming (郭俊銘) saying the results in central Taiwan would be at least a 50-50 split in the presidential election and that the party was looking to win as many as four of the eight electoral districts in Greater Taichung.
The DPP has no Taichung-based legislator after Chien Chao-tung (簡肇棟) resigned from his seat because of an automobile accident.
Former DPP legislator Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said he does not think the campaign atmosphere in central Taiwan is “cool,” as some have described it, since there are still three months to go.
Tsai’s campaign trip has been a huge hit since she started the 11-day trip in southern Taiwan, where Tsai and Su were both born.
Rallies held in central Taiwan have not been disappointing either, with more than 20,000 supporters attending an event in Changhua and about 6,000 attending an event in Fongyuan (豐原) last night.