Poll win eases pressure on Chen

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 May, 2005, 12:00am

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian received a much-needed boost in his dealings with the mainland yesterday when his DPP secured an election victory - then reached out to his opposition rival, Lien Chan.

Soon after the election results for the National Assembly were released, presidential secretary-general Yu Shyi-kun called his Kuomintang counterpart, Lin Feng-cheng. He said Mr Chen hoped to meet Mr Lien for talks and wanted to co-operate with the KMT leader, whose party made impressive gains.

The DPP garnered 1.64 million votes, securing 127 seats in the assembly, followed closely by the KMT with 1.5 million votes and 117 seats. The People First Party, whose chairman, James Soong Chu-yu, has just brokered a deal with Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao on how to resume cross-strait dialogue, suffered a major setback, winning only 16 seats in the 300-member assembly.

The victorious DPP chairman, Su Tseng-chang, said the result showed that Taiwanese people were still on the side of the DPP.

Mr Chen also said the elections represented a victory for the whole of Taiwan because more than 80 per cent of the voters supported the constitutional reform package promoted by the DPP.

Analysts said the victory would allow Mr Chen some breathing space. He has been under fire from hardline pro-independence supporters and some DPP colleagues.

Mr Chen met Mr Soong in February in an attempt to use him as a bridge to mend fences with the mainland, a move that infuriated his pro-independence supporters.

But the analysts said the election result appeared to vindicate his stance and they believed it would give him more flexibility in dealing with the mainland.