Tsai to run for DPP chair: reports
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-11 07:54 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Tsai Ing-wen will announce next week she will compete in the race to regain her chairmanship of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported Tuesday.

Incumbent chairman Su Tseng-chang, who has led the party since 2012, is likely to run for re-election, while former Premier Frank Hsieh has announced his bid for the election expected in late May.

Tsai’s office said that she would announce a decision when the time came.

Her hope of running again became clear in her January 1 New Year’s statement, the United Evening News, though she postponed a formal announcement from a February 10 Lunar New Year event to late March. She will not wait until April to announce her bid for the May election, reports said.

The DPP leadership is not expected to announce a timetable for the election proceedings until later this month, with the official registration of the candidates likely to be scheduled in early April, according to the United Evening News.

The paper claims Tsai made up her mind to run for chairwoman again by the end of last year, when President Ma Ying-jeou was hitting record lows following his power struggle with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng.

Tsai herself saw her proposal for a National Affairs Conference repeatedly rejected by the government while the DPP seemed to drift further away from the reviving social movements, the paper reported. As a result, she concluded that she needed to be at the center of the party in order to be able to influence the debate, the report said.

The DPP has been affected by recent disputes about its China policies and about independent Taipei City mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je. Hsieh has challenged Su to take a more open attitude toward Beijing, while he has also attacked him for allegedly procrastinating on how to address Ko’s challenge. Some DPP leaders want the outspoken physician to join the party, while others say the leadership should back him even if he remains an independent. According to recent opinion polls, Ko could have a strong chance of defeating the eventual Kuomintang nominee. In a three-way race between the KMT, the DPP and Ko, the opposition party would finish last, opinion surveys indicate.

He has chosen to stay outside of the DPP so far mainly because he feels that joining the party would make it more difficult to rally a broad anti-KMT coalition for the November 29 election. The trauma expert has also antagonized some party leaders by describing Tsai and Su as “two suns” threatening to divide the opposition.

Su has indicated he wants to solve the stalemate over the Taipei City candidacy by the end of May, before the chairmanship election. The five DPP contenders for the mayoral nomination debated each other last Sunday without Ko.

Tsai ran the main opposition party from 2008, when it lost power to the KMT and its presidential candidate Ma, until 2012, when Tsai herself was defeated by Ma in a presidential election. She was widely credited with bringing the DPP back to prominence.

Looking forward to the next poll when Ma will no longer be allowed to run, both Su and Tsai have been described as the two most likely opposition contenders.

Some critics, including Hsieh, have said that whoever won the DPP leadership election should stay out of the 2016 presidential race.

The United Evening News speculated Tuesday that if Su lost re-election, he would still be set on running in the presidential poll, while if Tsai lost, she might have to leave politics behind.

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