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DPP chairman hints at re-election bid
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-12 03:08 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang hinted Wednesday that he was likely to run for re-election as opposition leader ahead of local and regional elections in November.

Ex- Premier Frank Hsieh and former chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen are also widely seen as candidates for the party leadership, with the election for a new two-year term scheduled for May.

Speaking after a visit to the Agriculture Expo in Yunlin County, Su told reporters it was the duty of a party leader to bear responsibility for the nomination of its candidates in the November 29 elections, for the campaign and for the results, whether victories or defeats. The culture of the DPP was one of solidarity, and its chairman could give his fullest step by step, Su said.

The comments were seen as evidence that Su still wanted to be around as DPP leader when Taiwanese voters all over the country elected their mayors, county magistrates and councilors.

He said he was determined to lead the opposition united into the election battle, which was the normal thing to do for a DPP chairman.

When asked whether those comments meant he had already decided to run for re-election as chairman, he replied that in his present function, he was determined to do his job properly and not to let himself be distracted.

Hsieh and Tsai have been seen as his rivals within the party, with the latter likely to contest the opposition nomination for the 2016 presidential election. Hsieh has been gaining widespread exposure with his proposals for a more open attitude and closer relations with China. He has been accused by some DPP leaders as being in danger of veering too far from the party’s basic principles.

Hsieh told reporters Wednesday it was normal for the incumbent to run for re-election and hinted he was willing to take on Su in a debate to allow party members and society at large to compare their views on the future.

What society wanted from the DPP was not that it won a couple of extra seats in November, but that it led social reform and a deepening of democracy, Hsieh said. He suggested that if party members were allowed more participation, public support for the DPP would rise.

The former premier also called on the media to give Tsai more time to make up her mind whether or not to join the chairmanship race. Hsieh rejected the charge that having three candidates in the election for chairman meant that solidarity inside the DPP no longer existed.

The November regional and local elections will be the last major test of public opinion before the presidential vote. The DPP is widely predicted to do well because of the low popularity of the Kuomintang administration of President Ma Ying-jeou.

The opposition wants to gain at least half the seats of the mayors in the six special municipalities and of the mayors and magistrates in the other cities and counties.

Opinion polls show the DPP easily hanging on to its strongholds of Kaohsiung and Tainan in the South, while its candidate in Central Taiwan’s Taichung looks likely to defeat incumbent Jason Hu, who has run the country’s third city for more than a decade.

The loss of Taichung would mean a significant blow for the KMT since the area is crucial for any party to win in a national election.

In the country’s newest special municipality, Taoyuan, KMT incumbent John Wu looks ahead, while in New Taipei City, it was not yet sure whether Mayor Eric Liluan Chu would run for re-election against the DPP’s former premier, Yu Shyi-kun.

In Taipei City, the DPP campaign has been marred by the strong emergence of independent traumatologist Ko Wen-je, who still has to decide whether or not he will join the opposition party. The DPP has been considering several methods of involving Ko in the choice of a single opposition candidate, but no final choice has yet been made.

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