Minor parties hope to overcome odds and win big
Published December 14th 2004 in Taiwan News
Although both ruling and opposition camps have boasted optimism in winning a majority in the Legislature today, chances are neither can secure an outright upper hand with their non-partisan Solidarity Alliance and independent colleagues set to play the critical minority in the body.

Legislative candidates from across the spectrum all put in their utmost effort to shore up their support yesterday, the last day of the campaign, with some resorting to drastic measures to attract media attention.

As in past elections, contenders in different parts of the country cried foul over unfair election practices by their colleagues on the eve of the polls, as "coaxing voters to one's camp promises the easiest way to win.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Lin Chung-mo, who is seeking his third term in Taipei City's northern district, angrily accused fellow nominees Hsu Kuo-yung and Kao Chien-chih of violating the joint campaigning pact.

Lin pointed out that the two had run advertisements in newspapers begging DPP supporters to vote for them which was at odds with the party's ballot-rationing scheme aimed at dividing ballots evenly among five candidates in the constituency.

"Their attempt to amass as many votes as possible has sapped my campaign," Lin said, threatening to go his own way if Hsu and Kao persist to play unfairly.

The DPP is suffering excessive nominations in this part of the capital where a sizable number of DPP voters are expected to cast their ballots for Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmaker Chen Chien-ming and independent contestant Shih Ming-te.

Boosted by President Chen Shui-bian's re-election in March, the DPP has made securing majority control of the Legislature its top goal. But opinion polls show it is unrealistic to equate Chen's popularity to support for the party, especially in elections featuring multi-seat constituencies.

In Chen's home county of Tainan, DPP legislative leader Lee Chun-yee has protested the party's campaign flyers that portray Lee and another colleague Yeh Yi-jin as frontrunners and prod voters to help save three other weaker nominees. Lee threatened to boycott the vote-dividing policy unless the party treats all five candidates fairly.

To placate Lee, the DPP's Tainan chapter said the number of such flyers is small and it would adjust its propaganda tactic.

Intra-party competition, however, is not restricted to the pan-green camp. Former Kuomintang legislator Ting Shou-chung faulted incumbent party lawmaker Alex Tsai for circulating letters bearing the party's stamp that asks KMT members living in Neihu area to ignore the ballot-distributing measure and vote for Tsai.

Ting, who is seeking a seat in Taipei's northern district, said he would not tolerate such dishonest practice that he noted caused his surprising defeat in 2001. He urged his supporters to ignore unfounded rumors and hold on to their voting intentions.

Denying any wrongdoing, Tsai said the party has always intended the Neihu area as his voter base. To bring about a dump-save effect, Tsai questioned Ting's political loyalty, saying Ting has hired a DPP member to steer his campaign.

KMT organization officials have shunned the row as Ting and Tsai are both heavyweight members.

Pan Wei-kang, a KMT flag-bearer running for a seat in Taipei City's southern district, tearfully told a morning news conference that incumbent lawmaker Apollo Chen has been trying to steal ballots from her voter base.

Pan, who has the backing of retired soldiers and their family members, said this constituent group is exempted from vote allocation but Apollo Chen has disseminated flyers hinting they should comply with the measure when going to the polls.

"It is not right for Chen to seek to expand his voter base by sacrificing his own colleague," Pan said. "The party should step in and make it clear not all voters are subject to vote allocation."

KMT Legislator Lu Shiow-yen said she would hold KMT Chairman Lien Chan responsible if she fails to win re-election as a result of the vote-sharing policy.

Lu, who is seeking her third term in Taichung City, said her campaign has grown increasingly marginalized after the party decided to focus its energy on boosting fellow nominee Tsai Ching-lung.

"Owing to this unfair treatment, I am now in the danger of losing while the so-called weak candidate has become a juggernaut," Lu said. "I will ask Lien to step down right away if he remains indifferent to (her grievances)."

The KMT has asked supporters to divide their ballots evenly between Lu and Tsai but the latter allegedly has suggested they vote for him alone, saying the incumbent is bound to win and has no need of extra ballots.

The main opposition party, at its best performance, may poll 73 seats including berths reserved for proportional representation, according to KMT Secretary-general Lin Fong-cheng.

He estimated that the pan-blue alliance can garner 108 seats, meaning the allied People First Party is likely to bag 35 seats, elected and appointed.

The statistics indicate that neither the ruling or opposition camp can win an outright majority in the 225-seat Legislature, Lin Fong-cheng observed, predicting the Non-partisan Solidarity and independents may win up to 15 seats.