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Lien, Ko neck and neck in latest polls

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Sean Lien (連勝文) and Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), widely seen as the top two contenders in the year-end Taipei mayoral election, currently have nearly the same chance of victory, according to poll results released yesterday.

In a poll by Apply Daily conducted on Feb. 24, the day Lien formally joined the race for the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) nomination, 41.41 percent of the 822 Taipei residents polled said they would have voted for Lien, son of KMT Honorary Chairman Lien Chan, had the election taken place yesterday. Ko, the pro-green camp political rookie who is currently running as an independent candidate, would have received a tantalizingly close 41.17 percent of votes, pollsters at the Apply Daily found.

A survey by the Want Want China Times conducted after Lien's candidacy announcement also put the two candidates in a close race. If Lien represents the KMT and Ko the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the year-end election, both candidates will enjoy the same 29-percent rating among the 708 adults polled. Ko, however, sees a slightly better chance of defeating Lien if he continues his bid as an independent, fairing marginally better than the KMT nominee-hopeful with a 32-percent rating compared to Lien's 29 percent.

Both candidates saw their approval ratings drop in the China Times poll in comparison to the one conducted at the end of January (Lien by 2 percent and Ko by 4 percent to 29 percent if he runs as a DPP candidate).

The poll conducted by the United Daily News gave Lien the widest winning margin among the surveys conducted on Feb. 24. In the results released by its affiliated United Evening News yesterday, 45 percent said they support Lien while 39 percent backed Ko. About 59 percent said they have a better impression of Lien while 56 percent preferred the independent candidate. Lien has clear advantages in terms of international prospective and leadership, with 60 percent of people saying Lien has a better international prospective, against Ko's 15 percent. Around 47 percent regarded Lien as the better leader against Ko's 24 percent. Ko, however, better appeals to voters in terms of personal integrity, with 47 percent considering him a clean politician against Lien's 18 percent.

Ko also sees better ratings in voter affinity (41 percent against Lien's 35 percent) and perceived understanding of citizens' needs (42 percent against Lian's 31 percent) in the UDN poll.

Lien, the frontrunner for the party that has won four of the five direct Taipei mayor elections, said he realizes the closeness of the race. He said that in-house polls have put him neck and neck with Ko and vowed to continue has campaign with the mentality of an underdog.

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