So, it seems like a done deal. Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) will become the next chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Although the DPP will hold an election for this post, it is more a procedural formality than a real contest. After all, Su was personally instructed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to run for the position, and he was the only person to sign up by the time registration expired on Friday.
As this is Chen's second term, the question on everyone's mind is how the latest personnel shuffle -- and the premier and DPP chairman, in particular -- will impact on the race for the party's presidential nomination in 2008.
The top contenders for the nomination are Premier Yu Shyi-kun, Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Su. Chen reportedly was hoping that Yu would take over as DPP chairman after stepping down as premier at the end of this month, and that Su would replace him.
This would have resulted in at least two of the three presidential contenders having experience as top executive officials in the central government. This in turn would have boosted Su's political credentials. Indeed, the more political heavyweights from which the DPP can pick its presidential candidate, the better it is for the party and the country.
But because Yu declined to be DPP chairman, the only choice left was Su. Yu's decision should not be too surprising, as the secretary-general
of a party just doesn't have the same luster as a premier.
Su's decision to run for DPP chairman has also opened up room for speculation about a potential alliance between the DPP and the People First Party (PFP) after Chen forms his next Cabinet.
PFP Chairman James Soong (
For the DPP and PFP, there are good reasons to cooperate. For the DPP, once again just short of a pan-green legislative majority, the support of the PFP could make implementing policy so much easier. As for the PFP, it obviously hopes to teach the KMT a lesson about not taking it for granted -- especially after Soong openly expressed outrage at the KMT over diverting votes from his party during the legislative elections.
Moreover, the possibility of DPP-PFP cooperation could give the PFP more leverage with the KMT on who should serve as the next vice speaker of the Legislative Yuan -- a position the PFP is currently eyeing.
Against the backdrop of a major personnel reshuffle, it is most important for the DPP to keep in mind that it must never follow the path of the
KMT and mix and mingle the roles of party and
In particular, no party should operate in the manner of a top-to-bottom hierarchy. Chen's resignation from the office of DPP chairman was a step in the right direction.