Former premier looking to rekindle voter passion

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Sun, Sep 16, 2007 - Page 2

A civic group initiated by former premier Tang Fei (唐飛) was launched yesterday with the aim of "rekindling the passion of Taiwan's voters."

Speaking at an inauguration ceremony for the group, Tang urged "the silent middle-class voters and the intellectuals" who are disillusioned with politics to vote, claiming that this will mean the grandstanding politicians will not have their own way.

Tang, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) who served as premier for less than five months at the start of the DPP administration in 2000, also said that "Taiwan's politics should be put back on track."

He said disillusion among the electorate was reflected in a sharp increase in the number of voters who stayed away from the polls at the past two presidential elections.

He noted that in the 2000 presidential election, 2.79 million did not vote, compared with the 3.59 million who chose not to cast their ballots in the 2004 presidential election.

If the number of absent voters was combined with the 330,000 invalid ballots cast in the 2004 presidential election, it would mean that nearly one quarter of voters did not vote, Tang said.

He also elaborated on the responsibilities and goal of the association, saying that the group will act in line with "the will of the silent majority" by scrutinizing and commenting on the platforms of each political party and candidate.

The group hopes to bring such substantial issues as the economy and education to the election agenda in the hope that politicians will forego electioneering gambits such as maneuvering ideological issues.

He said the most urgent tasks for the group will be the two elections slated for next year -- the Jan. 12 legislative elections and the March 22 presidential election.

"With limited time, personnel and resources," Tang said, the group will cooperate with the academic sector and the media so that voters without party affiliation will "understand the importance" of the legislative elections, which will adopt a "single constituency, two votes" electoral system, as well as seeing the halving of the legislature to 113 seats, so that they will not easily give up their right to vote.