KMT, DPP heads make final frenetic pitch for votes on election eve - Focus Taiwan

KMT, DPP heads make final frenetic pitch for votes on election eve

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Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) The heads of the ruling and opposition parties traveled around Taiwan Friday to make final appeals for their parties' candidates on the eve of Saturday's local elections.

President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as the head of the Kuomintang, spent the day making his way from southern Taiwan to the north before ending up in Taipei, hoping to stave off KMT losses in cities and counties the party currently controls.

Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was focused on central Taiwan, where the party hopes to reverse the KMT's dominance and put the DPP in a stronger position for presidential and legislative elections in 2016.

[DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (right) in Chiayi City.]

Other DPP heavyweights -- former premiers Su Tseng-chang and Frank Hsieh, were busy campaigning in southern and northern Taiwan.

At stake are mayorships or county magistrate positions in all 22 of Taiwan's cities and counties.

The KMT currently controls 15 of those administrative districts, while the DPP holds six -- mostly in southern Taiwan -- and one is led by an independent, but dissatisfaction with the Ma administration is expected to translate to mid-term losses for the KMT at the local level.

Especially at risk are two big prizes -- the capital city of Taipei, which has been in KMT hands since the end of 1998, and the central Taiwan city of Taichung, which KMT incumbent Jason Hu has led since late 2001.

Polls taken earlier in November before a moratorium was imposed on making poll results public 10 days ago had both Hu and the KMT's mayoral nominee in Taipei, Sean Lien, well behind their main rivals.

The elections will also select city councilors in the special municipalities of Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung and the newly upgraded Taoyuan, township chiefs and representatives in the other 16 counties and county-level cities, and village and ward chiefs in all of them.

Ma started his final day of campaigning in Pingtung County in southern Taiwan to attend a rally for the KMT's magistrate candidate Chien Tai-lang.

[President Ma Ying-jeou in Pingtung County.]

From Pingtung, Ma traveled to Kaohsiung and Tainan to accompany mayoral candidates Yang Chiu-hsing and Huang Hsiu-shuang to canvas for votes.

It was the fourth time in a week that Ma has been to Tainan to solicit support for Huang in a city that has been in DPP hands since late 1993 and is considered rock-solid green, the color associated with the DPP.

"The situation has been better than expected," Ma said, vowing that the party will do its best there.

Huang's opponent, the popular incumbent Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te, campaigned for votes on Friday with former Tainan County Magistrate Chen Tan-sun.

[Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te's street campaign.]

After spending time in Tainan, Ma traveled straight to Keelung City on Taiwan's northern tip to campaign for KMT candidate Hsieh Li-kung and then head to Taoyuan to lend support to incumbent Taoyuan County Magistrate Wu Chih-yang.

Ma will attend three campaign rallies in the evening in Taichung, New Taipei and Taipei.

After the rally for the KMT's Hu in Taichung, Ma will appear at a rally for incumbent New Taipei Mayor Eric Liluan Chu, and end his day in Taipei at a rally for Lien in front of the Presidential Office.

[Broadcast of Sean Lien's rally in front of the Presidential office. Ma and Lien made appearance at 3:10:10]

The rally, to feature the theme "Win Taipei, Win Taiwan," will be attended by all KMT heavyweights, including Ma, KMT honorary chairman Wu Poh-hsiung, former Vice President Vincent Siew, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin.

In its final campaign ad, the KMT told voters, "the party will not be disheartened. It will charge forward and give everything to this land to the very end."

Ma urged voters to back the KMT and its support for liberalizing Taiwan rather than a party that leans to closing Taiwan's doors, referring to the DPP.

Lien's main opponent in Taipei, Ko Wen-je, an independent who has been endorsed by the DPP, planned to hold a concert rather than a traditional campaign rally.

He said that he hoped Taiwan could become a rational and peaceful society and therefore decided against holding a rally in favor of a "one city, one family" concert, inviting all to attend with their family members and pets in a happy atmosphere.

Ko is expected to arrive at the scene at 7 p.m. and deliver a speech at 9:30 p.m.

[Broadcast of independent Ko Wen-je's rally at his headquarters. Ko made appearance at 3:20:00]

The DPP's Tsai started her day in southern Taiwan, walking through a market in Chiayi City and then parading through Yunlin County for three hours before heading to Taichung to stump for DPP mayoral candidate Lin Chia-lung.

She arrived at Lin's campaign headquarters in the afternoon to attend a "you can change Taiwan tomorrow" news conference before moving on to Nantou.

In the evening, Tsai was to return to New Taipei for Yu Shyi-kun, the DPP's mayoral candidate there, and then head back south for a campaign rally in Changhua County at 8 p.m.

She will finish her evening in Taichung at Lin's last rally.

(By Claudia Liu, Sophia Yeh, Ku-chuan and Lilian Wu)


Related stories:●Nov. 28: Campaign rallies held around Taiwan on eve of biggest election●Nov. 28: Foreign-based businessmen returning to vote●Nov. 28: Voter turnout expected to approach 70 percent: CEC●Nov. 28: Taiwan gears up for 9-in-1 local government elections Saturday●Nov. 27: Constructing a crisis: candidates' last-minute appeals to voters●Nov. 27: Moderate weather expected on election day Saturday

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