Opposition parties struggle to integrate

The China Post staff

Although their grassroots supporters have shown high expectations for inter-party cooperation to secure a majority in the new legislature, the three main opposition parties are still having a hard time integrating their campaign strategies and resources. Political observers said recent relocations of legal residences by New Party heavyweights in preparation for the year-end legislative election run could become the last lethal blow to the much-anticipated cooperation between the Kuomintang (KMT), the People First Party (PFP) and the pro-unification New Party. New Party’s key figures have decided to run for legislative seats in constituencies with a large number of voters of mainland Chinese origin, even though they have never resided in those areas in the past. By so doing, party sources said, New Party heavyweights hope to help the party win at least five percent of the total ballots cast in the elections. If the New Party fails to secure that percentage of the vote, it would not be qualified to obtain any at-large seats in the new legislature. “Should that be the scenario, the New Party would fade away from Taiwan’s political arena like a burst bubble,” said a party official. Against this backdrop, New Party convener Hsieh Chi-ta, an incumbent legislator representing Taichung City, has relocated her legal residence to Kaohsiung City’s north electoral district in preparation to run for a legislative seat there.

As the New Party’s support base largely overlaps with the PFP’s, Hsieh’s move could threaten the chances of the three PFP candidates running in the same constituency, political analysts said. Another New Party stalwart Kao Hsin-wu has decided to run for a legislative seat in Kaohsiung City’s south district, posing a threat to PFP nominee Chiu Yi. Meanwhile, New Party member Chu Mei-feng, now director of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs of Hsinchu City, has announced her decision to join the race for a legislative seat in Taichung City. Her move may threaten incumbent PFP Legislator Shen Chih-hui’s reelection bid. In addition, incumbent New Party Legislator Lee Hsin will run in the Taoyuan County constituency, threatening PFP candidate Sun Ta-chien’s electoral bid.

As the number of voters of mainland Chinese origin in those areas is only enough to successfully support one or two candidates in each constituency, analysts said, the New Party’s new campaign strategy may affect the opposition camp’s overall electoral outcome. The New Party’s strategy would not only threaten PFP candidates but may also affect KMT nominees in certain districts, analysts said. The three parties jointly control nearly two-thirds of seats in the present legislature. Analysts said it now remains uncertain whether the three parties would maintain such a majority in the new legislature. Some New Party heavyweights said the party should not be blamed even if the opposition camp fails to win more than half of seats up for grabs. “The PFP and the KMT themselves should take the blame as both parties have fielded too many candidates in nearly all constituencies, leaving no room for the New Party,” said a New Party stalwart.