Sun, Dec 04, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The DPP receives a stern warning

The stakes wagered by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on the results of yesterday's elections were unprecedented for what were, after all, elections for city mayors, county commissioners and other local posts.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) both vowed to step down from their posts if their party did not win more than half of the counties and cities in which nominations were made.

The voters have presented their verdict -- and it looks like it is time for some serious reform within the ranks of the DPP, while the KMT can sigh in relief for now.

The DPP made 19 nominations in total, but won only six seats, four seats short of its target of 10. The KMT made 20 nominations and won a total of 14, surpassing its target of 11.

Those who still refuse to see these results as a warning for the DPP are not doing the party any favors, but fortunately for the party there is plenty of time to remedy the problems before the next major elections come around.

The DPP lost a total of five seats, Taipei, Ilan, Changhua and Nantou counties, as well as Chiayi City, while gaining Yunlin County.

It is alarming for the party that all the northern counties that the DPP held have now been lost. All six counties won by the DPP are located in the south.

But the jewel in the crown was Taipei County. Su had good reason for including defeat in this county as one of the criteria for his resignation. It is not only the most heavily populated county in the country, but because of its proximity to the capital, the ability to mobilize the county's support will be crucial for the next presidential election.

With Ma and Su eagerly eyeing the next presidential race, the importance of winning Taipei County was no secret. Victory for the KMT's nominee, Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), marks the first time in 16 years that the pan-blues have tasted victory there.

Then there is Ilan County. Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) should have been able to win that race with his eyes shut. After all, he had served as county commissioner before and was exceedingly popular there as well as during his term as minister of justice. A strong DPP candidate in a county that is traditionally a DPP stronghold -- what went wrong? That is only one of the questions the DPP should be pondering right now.

The importance of these elections to the KMT derives from the fact that they were the first under the leadership of Ma.

Commentators have argued that the outcome of these elections would be a good indication of the strength of Ma's leadership. And now that the KMT has performed very well, it is widely believed that the internal rifts and turmoil that were generated by the KMT chairmanship race may subside for the moment.

It seems that the era of Ma Ying-jeou has officially started. The DPP had better start preparing itself for some tough challenges ahead. Finding out where it has gone wrong in recent years is the first step to meeting those challenges.

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