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DPP

DPP

Pendulum won't be able to swing back to DPP

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 January, 2008, 12:00am

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The Kuomintang's big win has given the main opposition party a strong boost for its candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, in the more important presidential poll in two months' time.

It was a huge setback for President Chen Shui-bian's efforts to entrench a political divide and it will be difficult for his Democratic Progressive Party to regain ground before the March 22 vote.

'The KMT's landslide greatly helps to consolidate the opposition party's support, and it is less likely that the DPP will be able to win it back in the presidential poll,' said political analyst Andrew Yang Nien-dzu, secretary general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies.

In the past two decades, Taiwan has seen a so-called pendulum effect, in which voters have tended to favour the party that lost the previous election, possibly to maintain a political balance. But analysts said the fact that the DPP had lost even in its stronghold of Kaohsiung showed such an effect would be limited.

The DPP was able to secure only the southern city and county of Tainan, Mr Chen's hometown, and won two of the three seats in the southernmost stronghold of Pingtung. It lost in most of the 75 constituencies, including two electoral districts for indigenous candidates.

'For the pendulum effect to take place, [DPP presidential candidate] Frank Hsieh [Chang-ting] would need to distance himself from Chen Shui-bian,' said Chu Hsin-min, professor of diplomacy at National Chengchi University. 'But would it be possible for Hsieh to do so, given that the entire DPP has been kidnapped by Chen?'

He said the KMT would do all it could to convince voters that a KMT president plus a KMT-led legislature would help achieve political and economic stability after the two parties' eight years of bitter bickering.

Pundits said Mr Chen's radical policy of fanning the political divide, which had intensified hatred between the pro-independence and mainland-friendly camps, was a major factor in the DPP setback.

'Chen Shui-bian has tried to use the political divide to distract public attention from his poor administration and alleged corruption of his government,' said political commentator Yeh Yao-peng.

Mr Yeh, a former DPP member, said Mr Chen had used hardcore pro-independence supporters to consolidate his power base and hijack the DPP for years.

'The big setback means his radical line might no longer work in the future,' he said.

Most of the DPP candidates known for their hardcore pro-independence stance and staunch support of Mr Chen lost.