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Cablegate: Dpp Weekend Campaign Effort Focuses On Love River's

VZCZCXRO3629
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #4038/01 3351058
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011058Z DEC 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3321
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6034
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0600
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1562
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5537
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 9783
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 7259

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 004038

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: DPP WEEKEND CAMPAIGN EFFORT FOCUSES ON LOVE RIVER'S
EMOTIONAL APPEAL

REF: 2006 Taipei 3960

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: The ruling DPP is holding a mass rally in
Kaohsiung on Sunday December 3 aimed at energizing supporters to
boost the prospects of mayoral candidate Chen Chu winning election
on December 9. Ostensibly organized by the Southern Taiwan
Association, the "Love Kaohsiung, Cherish Taiwan" event will be held
at Kaohsiung's Love River to underscore the accomplishments of the
DPP city government. The KMT is planning a march on the same day to
rally support for its candidate Huang Chun-ying. Both sides are
concerned that the "cold" election climate this year could depress
voter turnout, affecting the outcome of this very close race.
Although KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou and President Chen Shui-bian are
likely to attend this weekend's activities, most AIT/K contacts
believe the two leaders will have only a marginal effect on the
race. End Summary.

Love River: Boost for Chen Chu?
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) The DPP is hoping that this weekend's December 3 rally at
the Love River will energize its voter base and give a boost to DPP
candidate Chen Chu ahead of the December 9 election. The DPP
regards former Mayor Frank Hsieh's cleanup and beautification of the
Love River as one of its major accomplishments in Kaohsiung. Taiwan
Solidarity Union (TSU) Deputy Secretary-General Huang Chao-chang
told AIT/K that the rally, ostensibly organized by the non-party
affiliated Southern Taiwan Association (STA), is an obvious election
ploy to help Chen Chu. Furious with the STA, Huang complained that
the association has refused to invite TSU candidate Lo Chih-ming to
participate. To add insult to injury, the STA has also been calling
for TSU supporters to dump Lo and vote for Chen as the only
pan-Green candidate with a chance of winning. Despite STA and DPP
efforts to lure Lo's supporters, Huang believes the corruption
investigations against President Chen and his family and close staff
are having a significant dampening impact on Chen Chu's campaign and
will make it difficult to draw votes away from Lo. Huang argued
that the low participation at recent DPP rallies indicates the party
is having difficulty mobilizing supporters. As a result, he
predicted, voter turnout will be lower than in previous elections.


3. (SBU) A DPP official from Tainan told AIT/K that party branches
from the surrounding counties have been asked to mobilize supporters
for the "Love Kaohsiung, Cherish Taiwan" rally in Kaohsiung. He
added, however, that most attendees will hail from the Kaohsiung
area. A Chen Chu campaign assistant acknowledged that the DPP is
under "enormous pressure" to win the Kaohsiung election. The rally
presents an opportunity to make an emotional appeal that aims to
inspire voters by recalling the past achievements of the DPP
administration in Kaohsiung and stressing the importance of
continued DPP leadership to the future development of the city. One
KMT official acknowledged that the rally is a smart move by the DPP
to stir up supporters who have been depressed about the ongoing
corruption investigations plaguing President Chen, his family, and
top aides.

The Chen and Ma Factors
-----------------------

4. (SBU) So far President Chen has not participated in any campaign
events on behalf of Chen Chu and it remains unclear whether his
expected appearance at the December 3 rally would significantly
boost her campaign. Local party contacts say that an appearance by
President Chen would only help energize deep-Green supporters, but
would have little sway in attracting swing voters who have lost
faith in the President. As a result, some believe President Chen
should not participate in the rally. The TSU's Huang told AIT/K
that Chen Chu fears an appearance by Chen Shui-bian could actually
hurt her support among swing voters, but she is unwilling to
publicly distance herself from the President. Local KMT officials
hope that continuing negative press coverage of the Presidential
family will boost their mayoral candidate's chances on December 9.


5. (SBU) In contrast to President Chen, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou
has campaigned vigorously for Huang Chun-ying and plans to attend
campaign rallies over the weekend. A KMT legislative contact
suggested to AIT/K that Ma's mayoral special budget accounting
problems have had only minimal effect on Huang's prospects. Ma's

TAIPEI 00004038 002 OF 002


appeal with young and female voters, moreover, could help compensate
for Huang's stodgy, less charismatic image. The campaign, according
to this contact, is in effect a proxy contest between President Chen
and Chairman Ma. Chen hopes to lead Kaohsiung to victory in order
to stem his and the DPP's downward slide since last year, while Ma
hopes a victory will reinvigorate his recently tarnished 2008
presidential prospects.

Not Playing the "Taiwan Identity" Card?
---------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Chen Chu recently told the DDIR she would not play the
polarizing Taiwan identity card (reftel). DPP contacts tell AIT/K
the party will not hold campaign-related activities to commemorate
the anniversary of the Kaoshiung incident on December 10. A KMT
contact suggested that DPP efforts in the 2005 3-in-1 elections to
exploit "Taiwan identity" issues failed to have much resonance with
voters, especially those under the age of 40, who had no significant
recollection of the Kaohsiung incident, which occurred 27 years ago.


Comment
--------

7. (SBU) The Kaohsiung mayoral election remains too close to call.
While the corruption scandals surrounding President Chen have
damaged the DPP by depressing Deep Green enthusiasm and alienating
swing voters, Chen Chu is a stronger campaigner than her KMT rival
Huang Chun-ying. A saying popular in Kaohsiung these days holds
that victory or defeat both come from Chen Shui-bian. In other
words, if Chen Chu loses, blame for the defeat will be placed
squarely on the beleaguered President, as he struggles to retain
core DPP support in the face of on-going pan-Blue efforts to force
him from office. Thus the stakes in this southern Taiwan contest
have major national implications.

THIELE

YOUNG

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