DPP chairman denies giving up on re-election
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-12 04:51 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang on Wednesday denied reports he was giving up a bid to be re-elected on May 25 after media reported that his popular predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen, would soon join the race.

Su told reporters that he wanted to bear responsibility for managing the nomination process for the November 29 regional and local elections, which would entail him still being chairman after the end of May.

He expressly denied that he wanted to avoid competing with Tsai in the race for the leadership of the opposition party. Until now, only Su and former Premier Frank Hsieh have confirmed they are running, but the Chinese-language United Evening News reported on its front page Tuesday that Tsai was also preparing a bid, which she was likely to announce as early as next week. Her office said that any announcement of her running or not would be made at an appropriate time.

Su told reporters he was fully engaged with his current tasks as party chairman, defending the public interest in issues such as the service trade pact with China and the fourth nuclear plant.

Hsieh said Tsai might not run for opposition leader because she had not proposed any policies yet. At present, all those reports about who was running and who not amounted merely to speculation, the ex-premier said. Candidates should not be calculating the votes of various factions but instead cooperate, Hsieh said.

The race for the DPP leadership has been interpreted as one stage in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Su and Tsai have both been tipped as potential candidates for that poll, while Hsieh has said that whoever wins the chairman election should not be the party’s presidential candidate. The chairperson’s task should be to help candidates get elected, not to try and win elective offices himself, Hsieh said.

According to a report in the Chinese-language China Times Wednesday, opinion polls saw Tsai leading Su by 10 percent, though if Hsieh withdrew from the race, the lead would increase to 20 percent.

The paper concluded that if Hsieh decided not to run, Su would follow suit in order to avoid a humiliating defeat which might end his political career. Instead, he would concentrate on a presidential bid, the China Times wrote.

Despite disastrous opinion polls for President Ma Ying-jeou and his Kuomintang, the DPP has also been faced with problems of its own. In addition to the May 25 leadership election by party members, the DPP also has to select candidates for the November 29 elections for city mayors, county magistrates and local councilors. In most areas, the choice has been determined by opinion polls.

The party has set a target of winning the mayoral positions in at least half of the six special municipalities. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu and Tainan Mayor William Lai look almost certain of re-election, while lawmaker Lin Chia-lung has done well in opinion polls against incumbent Mayor Jason Hu.

The situation in three northern areas, Taipei City, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, which is to be upgraded from a county to a special municipality in December, looks more problematic.

New Taipei City DPP nominee Yu Shyi-kun has reportedly not performed well in some surveys, leading to repeated rumors that Su would run for mayor himself. Both Su and Yu, a former premier, have denied the reports.

Taoyuan County’s incumbent KMT magistrate, John Wu, looks strong in his bid to become the first mayor of the new Taoyuan City, reports said.

In the capital, the DPP faces the difficult situation of reconciling its five party members running for mayor with the frontrunner in opinion polls for the opposition camp, independent physician Ko Wen-je. Hsieh has lambasted Su for procrastinating on the issue, while the DPP mayoral hopefuls have focused their attacks on Ko.

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