Taiwan's election not swayed by outside forces: analysts

By Michael Danielsen, Chairman of Taiwan Corner.
Publish in FAD Dropzone on 22. March 2008.
Taipei, March 22 (CNA) The controversy over whether President-elect Ma Ying-jeou has a green card and the “one China common market” issue did not keep the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) from scoring a landslide victory in Taiwan’s presidential election Saturday and shows that the Taiwan people acted on their own without outside impact, according to analysts.
Ma garnered almost 60 percent of the votes — 2.2 million votes more than his rival Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Frank Hsieh — in Taiwan’s fourth direct presidential election since 1996. The lopsided victory shows that Ma’s momentum was not slowed by Hsieh’s campaign strategy, the analysts said.
Hsieh’s camp had challenged Ma over the U.S. permanent residence status, or green card, that Ma obtained in 1977, questioning his integrity and loyalty to Taiwan. Hsieh also argued that Ma’s cross-strait common market proposal will jeopardize Taiwan’s labor and agricultural sectors and the future of the younger generation.
Most people have oversimplified the election and ignored its complexity, Danish columnist Michael Danielsen said on the eve of the poll, adding that from his observations, the Taiwanese would not let outside forces impact the election.
The Taiwanese people seemed determined to cast their votes this time solely on the issues of their immediate interests such as the economy and their livelihoods, he said.
Ma’s support rate did drop when Hsieh’s camp made its first accusation on the green card issue but it did not last long, said Yang Hsien-hong, a local political pundit.
Leading by around 20 percent during almost the entire campaign, Ma’s momentum took a hit after a series of events over the past two weeks during which four KMT legislators gatecrashed Hsieh’s campaign headquarters in an attempt to investigate whether the building had been illegally leased to Hsieh’s campaign and China launched a military crackdown on Tibetan protesters. Ma seeks closer ties with
Taiwanese law forbids the publication of public opinion polls in the last 10 days of the campaign, but prior to the polls, most people had predicted that it would be a neck-and-neck race.
“It will take me some time to let the shocking defeat sink in because the large gap was unexpected, ” said Yosoh Kure, deputy secretary-general of the pro-independence Taiwan Society, adding that with hindsight, it was maybe the DPP referendum held alongside the election that was the primary reason for the defeat.”
Yure also agreed with an observation that Hsieh’s camp ran too much of a “negative campaign” which backfired and hurt only himself.