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Cablegate: Southern Taiwan Reactions to Dpp Hsieh-Su Presidential

VZCZCXRO1644
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #1863/01 2280534
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 160534Z AUG 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6400
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7131
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1288
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2038
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6007
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0468
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8379

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 001863

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TW
SUBJECT: Southern Taiwan Reactions to DPP Hsieh-Su Presidential
Ticket

REF: 2007 Taipei 1662

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (U) Summary: The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP)
presidential candidate Frank Hsieh announced on August 15 that
former Premier Su Tseng-chang has accepted his invivation to be his
running mate. Most political observers and grassroots supporters in
southern Taiwan praised the decision, saying that a Hsieh-Su ticket
provides the DPP its best chance at winning the 2008 presidential
election. However, some observers question whether Hsieh and Su can
actually bury their differences and cooperate effectively. Local
academics see the selection as a compromise between factions for the
sake of DPP solidarity. End summary.

DPP Grassroots Mostly Happy with Su Selection
---------------------------------------------
2. (SBU) The chairmen of the Tainan County and Kaohsiung County DPP
offices separately told AIT/K that most DPP grassroots supporters
believe a Hsieh-Su ticket gives their party its strongest chance at
winning the March 2008 presidential election. They opined that the
Hsieh-Su combination symbolizes the unification of the DPP's
opposing factions and will encourage cooperation among party
members. Su is viewed by many in the DPP as an effective campaigner
who will augment Hsieh's strengths. Tainan County Chairman Kuo
Kuo-Wen emphasized that 19 out of 25 DPP City and County Chairmen
had earlier called for a Hsieh-Su ticket, proving Su has strong
grassroots connections and the ability to galvanize DPP supporters.
In light of reports that Hsieh is being investigated for alleged
corruption (REFTEL), Kaohsiung County DPP Chairman Chen Ming-tze
said that Su is a good choice because he could easily replace Hsieh
as the DPP candidate if Hsieh is indicted. Dr. Soong Hseik-wen, a
Professor at National Chung Cheng University, echoed the belief that
the Su selection would repair the rift that developed between the
two DPP stars and their respective supporters during the party
primary.

Can't Please Them All - Some Express Preference for Yeh
--------------------------------------------- ----------
3. (SBU) A small number of DPP supporters, including some members of
the pro-DPP Southern Association, expressed disappointment with
Hsieh's decision. Yeh Chu-lan's gender and Hakka roots make her a
stronger running mate than Su, they argued, adding that she would
have attracted support from women, who have consistently favored Ma,
and Taiwan's Hakka minority, the island's second largest ethnic
group. Nevertheless, they conceded that most DPP members will fully
support the Hsieh-Su ticket. Professor Kuo Chih-wen of the National
Sun Yat-sen University, also a member of the Southern Association,
told AIT/K that Su Tseng-chang's tough personality is better suited
for a more active role, such as that of Premier; the vice presidency
is a misuse of Su's abilities, he suggested.

4. (SBU) Lee Kuan-chih, Chairman of the Kaohsiung Hakka Culture
Foundation, told us that leaders of the Kaohsiung Hakka community
now have no specific reasons to campaign for a Hsieh-Su ticket,
leaving Hakka voters to cast their ballots according to their own
preferences. Lee added that about 160,000 people or one-sixth of
all eligible voters in Kaohsiung City alone are Hakka, and that
two-thirds of them usually support the DPP. He predicted that the
upcoming presidential election will be decided by the narrow margin
of 100,000 votes, thus making Hakka support significant.


KMT Sees Su Selection as Unifying for DPP
-----------------------------------------
5. (SBU) Some members of the KMT also view the Su selection as a
move to unify the DPP, but think KMT candidates Ma Ying-jeou and
Vincent Siew will still win. KMT Kaohsiung City Chairman Hsu
Fu-ming told AIT/K that although Su Tseng-chang was not Hsieh's
preferred choice, Hsieh has shelved his differences with Su in an
effort to unify the DPP. KMT Legislator Lo Shih-hsiung predicted
that any cooperation between Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang will be
short lived, but opined that Su will prove a stronger running mate
than Yeh. Lo repeated his earlier speculation that President Chen
might have somehow used the threat of bringing corruption charges
against Hsieh to pressure him into selecting Su (REFTEL).

Comment
-------
6. (SBU) Most observers in southern Taiwan believe Su will provide
a significant boost to the DPP's bid to hold on to the presidency
for a third consecutive term. That Hsieh has decided to go with the

TAIPEI 00001863 002 OF 002


party's preferred candidate rather than his personal choice shows
that he is pragmatic and understands that he will need a strongly
unified DPP to be competitive in the upcoming presidential election.


Thiele

Young

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