Sunday, November 27, 2011

The stage is set for a three-way showdown in January 2012

l  Taiwan’s presidential race continued to tighten as the three candidates—the ruling Kuomintang’s (KMT) Ma Ying-jeou, Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen, and People First Party’s (PFP) James Soong—have registered with the Central Election Commission (CEC) by November 25 and made their candidacy official.

l  The immediate task ahead remains to: (1) solidify their respective core support, (2) highlight differences along partisan and policy lines, and (3) apply the “abandonment tactics” to disintegrate rivals’ strength.

l  The gap between President Ma and DPP’s Tsai has been narrowing in recent polls that the race is now wide open. Policy blunders and strategic mistakes by the KMT have caused Ma’s recent decline.

l  At the same time, the DPP continued to attack Ma over the mismanagement of quality-of-life issues and blasted the KMT administration’s record in office.

l  Although his level of support has been hovering around 10%, the KMT has not taken PFP Chairman James Soong’s candidacy seriously until recently. There is increasing awareness that Soong’s 10% will not switch support behind others even if the PFP chairman withdraws from the race. This will, in turn, make Soong’s candidacy more of a variable than originally perceived.

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