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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06TAIPEI3730
2006-11-02 06:20:00
UNCLASSIFIED
American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
Cable title:  

Weak KMT Campaign Allows DPP to Catch Up in Kaohsiung

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  TW 
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PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #3730/01 3060620
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020620Z NOV 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2865
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5869
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0501
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1493
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5461
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 9680
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7089
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003730 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TW
SUBJECT: Weak KMT Campaign Allows DPP to Catch Up in Kaohsiung
Mayoral Race

REF: A) TAIPEI 3444 B) 2005 TAIPEI 3856

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003730

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TW
SUBJECT: Weak KMT Campaign Allows DPP to Catch Up in Kaohsiung
Mayoral Race

REF: A) TAIPEI 3444 B) 2005 TAIPEI 3856

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.



1. (SBU) Summary: Negative reactions to Shih Ming-te's movement
against President Chen and KMT campaign shortcomings in leadership
and strategy are jeopardizing KMT candidate Huang Chun-ying's bid to
win the December 9 Kaohsiung mayoral election. Recent media polling
indicates that the Kaohsiung mayoral contest is now a neck-to-neck
race between Huang and DPP candidate Chen Chu. Many political
observers believe that the Kaohsiung mayoral election will have an
important effect on the future prospects of the DPP and KMT.
Therefore, top leaders of both parties are focusing on trying to win
this election in hopes victory will help their party also win the
presidency in 2008. End Summary.


2. (U) Despite earlier speculation that DPP corruption scandals
would hand an easy victory to the KMT in Kaohsiung, recent media and
DPP polling indicate that the mayoral election has become a
neck-to-neck race. An October 19 China Times poll showed that DPP
Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Chen Chu's popularity has increased from
24 percent to 31 percent since June whereas KMT candidate Huang
Chun-ying's popularity has increased just two points, from 35
percent to 37 percent, during the same period. The poll showed a
steady increase in Chen Chu's approval rating among DPP supporters
and swing voters, and also indicated that the two candidates have an
equal chance of winning the election on December 9. A third
candidate, the TSU's Lo Chih-ming, was supported by only 1 percent
of polled respondents.


3. (U) According to the media, several political observers
attributed the decrease in KMT candidate Huang Chun-ying's
popularity to negative reaction to the southern tour of Shih
Ming-te's Anti-President Chen movement. Shortly before the
anti-Chen tour, Huang Chun-ying scored an impressive 42 percent
popularity rating in the polls, which afterwards dropped to 37
percent. Many swing voters appear to have become more conservative
in expressing their political positions after the altercations

between the Anti-Bian supporters and the supporters of President
Chen that occurred in Kaohsiung on September 29 (ref A, para 2).


4. (SBU) Chan Yuan-hsiang, a senior local journalist, disputed the
view that Shih Ming-te's southern tour was the main factor in Huang
Chun-ying's declining popularity. Chan told AIT/K that Huang had
made major mistakes in choosing an incapable campaign team and
targeting the wrong issues. Huang's major campaign aides, including
KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Ping-kun and Secretary-general Chen
Shueh-sheng, are not Kaohsiung natives and lack close connections
with local KMT factions. According to Chan, KMT Chairman Ma
Ying-jeou finally noticed the campaign leadership problem and asked
former Kaohsiung mayor Wu Dun-yi to step in and campaign for Huang.
Although Wu left Kaohsiung eight years ago, he has maintained his
connections with local KMT factions and opinion leaders, Chan noted.



5. (SBU) Chan asserted that the KMT plans to cooperate with
independent city council candidates with known organized crime
backgrounds to buy votes for the KMT mayoral candidate. Chan
claimed that the KMT is offering these candidates the city council
speaker seat in exchange of their support for Huang Chun-ying.
Local crime syndicates could guarantee a better turnout with
vote-buying, Chan suggested, adding that tying the city council race
to the mayoral election was a clever campaign tactic. On the other
hand, KMT Kaohsiung Chairman Hsu Fu-ming indicated KMT Chairman Ma
Ying-jeou would never allow vote-buying during these elections and
that, instead, it is the DPP that has already begun to line up with
cash in an effort to mobilize reluctant swing voters to get to the
polls for the DPP.


6. (SBU) According to Chan, in a neck-to-neck race such as the
Kaohsiung mayoral contest, candidates should avoid using a negative
campaign strategy because smear tactics might backfire. Chan gave
the example of the mayoral election between DPP candidate Frank
Hsieh and Wu Dun-yi eight years ago, in which Wu lost his reelection
bid to Hsieh by some 4,000 votes after using negative campaigning
that focused on the kidnapping/murder case of a TV celebrity's
daughter. Chan admitted that the Kaohsiung Metro (KRTC) scandal
(ref B), which involved the importation of foreign laborers, might
have some impact on DPP mayoral candidate Chen Chu, who was formerly
Chair of the Council of Labor Affairs, but he doubted it would be a
decisive factor in the election's outcome. He dismissed speculation

TAIPEI 00003730 002 OF 002


that former acting Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chi-mai, currently serving
as secretary-general of Chen Chu's campaign office, would not
campaign wholeheartedly for Chen Chu because the KRTC scandal had
cost his mayoral aspirations and led to his father's conviction on
corruption charges. With a reputation for effectiveness in
disciplinary action, the DPP will convince all local factions to
campaign for Chen Chu to defend its rule in Kaohsiung, Chan
predicted.


7. (SBU) Most local media observers believe that the Kaohsiung
mayoral election is no longer just a local election, but a duel
between the two major political parties, with important implications
for the future of the KMT and the DPP and the outcome of the 2008
presidential election. Some commentators argue that if the
Pan-Green loses the election in Kaohsiung, the leadership of
President Chen and DPP Chairman Yu will collapse and the DPP
decision-making body will have to be reorganized. If the Pan-Blue
loses, KMT Chairman Ma's leadership will be challenged, which could
affect his bid to become president in 2008. The Kaohsiung election
results may also affect Shih Ming-te's movement to unseat President
Chen. A victory by the DPP's Chen Chu will be widely interpreted as
a major setback for Shih's movement. The DPP is characterizing the
Kaohsiung mayoral election as a major battle to defend its rule,
and, perhaps to stimulate a sense of crisis and voter enthusiasm,
Chen Chu has even predicted that the DPP will lose both the 2007
legislative and 2008 presidential elections if it loses Kaohsiung on
December 9.

THIELE

WANG