DPP chair turns down mayoral bids
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-15 04:09 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang turned down requests to run for mayor in year-end elections after he announced he was foregoing a re-election bid.

Su on Monday made the surprise announcement that he would not stand for re-election as opposition leader in the May 25 poll. As ex-Premier Frank Hsieh soon after also followed suit, it left former chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen as the only viable candidate.

After the news broke, speculation grew that Su might focus entirely on a bid for president in 2016, though local officials also encouraged him to take part in the November 29 elections, during which city mayors and county magistrates nationwide will be chosen.

The list includes six special municipalities directly under the central government, including the present Taoyuan County which will be upgraded to the new status under the name of Taoyuan City at the end of the year. Three former lawmakers from the area visited Su Tuesday morning, saying the region needed his experience as a former premier and local leader. Su already served one term as Pingtung County magistrate and was elected twice as magistrate of Taipei County, now known as New Taipei City.

Incumbent Taoyuan County Magistrate John Wu of the KMT is currently the favorite to become the first Taoyuan City mayor, according to recent opinion polls.

After their meeting with Su, the ex-lawmakers said the DPP leader had rejected their suggestion and added he wanted to travel nationwide to thank old friends and also to hit the campaign trail on behalf of local party candidates. Su was not considering joining the local election race, the former legislators told reporters.

Su withdrew from the DPP chairman election to avoid splitting the party, but he would continue campaigning for local candidates, reports said.

Separately, about 20 local officials and sympathizers from Taipei City showed up outside DPP headquarters Tuesday morning to express their support for Su and for an eventual bid for the capital’s mayoral position, which is also up for grabs on November 29.

The main opposition party has failed to nominate a candidate for the position so far because of widespread support in opinion polls for independent physician Ko Wen-je, who has refused to join the DPP. Attempts to bring the two sides closer together were temporarily put aside during the student occupation of the Legislative Yuan from March 18 to April 10.

Su should come out and travel around the country to support local candidates, the demonstrators said, suggesting the party leader should also seriously consider a bid for mayor of Taipei City.

Former DPP spokesman Wang Min-sheng, who is running for a seat on the Taipei City Council, said the best use of Su’s talents would be to have him campaign for all the candidates who had been nominated during his chairmanship.

A former Kaohsiung County vice magistrate, Kuo Tai-lin, reportedly registered for the DPP chairman elections, but the 55-year-old former official was not well known by the public at large.

The departure of Su and Hsieh from the race followed the 24-day occupation of the Legislative Yuan by students, who some alleged had marginalized the main opposition party. Last Saturday, DPP lawmaker Chao Tien-lin called for a rejuvenation of the party and for Su, Hsieh and Tsai to withdraw from the leadership race to make way for a younger generation.

Tsai already served as DPP chairwoman from 2008, after the party lost power, until 2012, when she lost the presidential election.

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