Mayoral candidates turn up heat

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2006, 12:00am

Hopefuls in Taipei, Kaohsiung step up their 'dump-save' strategies, urging voters to ditch those with a slim chance

With the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections just four days away, candidates vying for the key posts in Taiwan's two biggest cities have stepped up so-called 'dump-save' strategies to maximise their chances of success.

The tactic, which asks voters to drop a certain candidate in order to save another, has become a prominent feature of campaigning in Taipei. Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, is considered the most adept at using the method among the six candidates for city mayor, local media and observers say.

Since last month, he has encouraged supporters of the pro-independence green camp to give their votes to the candidate who best represents the camp and has the best chance in the poll, they say.

Observers said that although Mr Hsieh had not identified anyone, pro-independence voters knew that Mr Hsieh, a former premier and Kaohsiung mayor, was referring to himself rather than Clara Chou Yu-kou, who is also from the green camp.

They said the strategy worked well in Ms Chou's case, especially given that she was expelled last month by the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), which had nominated her.

Since sidelining Ms Chou, Mr Hsieh is expected to secure at least 35 per cent of the ballots from green camp supporters in Taipei, a constituency dominated by supporters of the opposition pan-blue camp.

The next thing to do was to make use of the 'dump-save' war between the main opposition Kuomintang candidate Hau Lung-bin and People First Party (PFP) chairman James Soong Chu-yu, a former governor, observers said.

Mr Hsieh said yesterday he had received a phone message, apparently from a KMT source, saying the PFP chairman, who is running as an independent, would announce his withdrawal from the race today.

The rivalry between the KMT and the PFP intensified last week after Mr Hsieh said Mr Soong had held a secret meeting with KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou to talk about ways for Mr Soong to bow out gracefully, a claim vehemently denied by the KMT and the PFP.

But Mr Hsieh insisted that his information came from the KMT, prompting the two opposition parties to trade barbs over who leaked the information.

Analysts said Mr Hsieh was actually targeting Mr Soong, hoping that he would not drop out of the election.

'If Soong remains in the race and does his best to secure at least 10 per cent of the votes from the blue camp, this would split the vote of the blue camp, thereby reducing the votes received by Hau Lung-bin,' said political analyst George Tsai Wei.

Meanwhile, the 'dump-save' war is also being waged in southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung city, with DPP candidate Chen Chu and TSU candidate Lo Chi-ming both coming from the pro-independence green camp.