The surprising outcome of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DDP) primary was indeed dramatic, with a months-long cut-throat campaign followed by the quick withdrawals of the three defeated hopefuls. Yesterday's enemy will not necessarily become today's friend; however, to ensure continuing DPP power, the other three "big shots" -- Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun -- gave the winner of the party primary Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) their support.
Democratic ethics dictate that once you accept the rules of the game, you must also accept the results of the game. To a great extent, the handshake gestures after the campaign successfully prevented further DPP discord, paving the way for a united party to tackle the 2008 presidential election in the tradition of fair and democratic values.
While the DPP is uniting together as a team, the largest opposition party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), hasn't been able to settle its own affairs.
Despite easily winning the May 2 nomination as the KMT's presidential candidate, former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
Contrary to the DPP's democratic nominee selection, the KMT's nomination process simply functioned as an automatic mechanism to choose Ma.
Ma had no choice but resign his chairmanship after being indicted on corruption charges for misusing his mayoral fund -- a resignation especially understandable in the face of a potential challenge from a KMT heavyweight like Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平). Ma had no other option but to announce his bid for the 2008 presidential election, pledging to run despite the court's ruling.
Ma's support of Wu Poh-hsiung (
Ma's aggressive maneuvering to secure the pan-blue nomination will no doubt create more serious challenges for the KMT in the future. The potential for Ma's legal troubles to further sabotage his popularity, along with the precariousness of Wang's support, could constitute a severe political headache for Ma.
After a meeting with Ma last Wednesday, Wang publicly refused to say whether he would join Ma on the ticket, suggesting Ma find another running mate.
With remnants of their past rivalry intact, it is safe to assume that Ma has no intention of inviting Wang to be his running mate. Nevertheless, for the sake of party unity, Ma still feigns an open door for Wang.
Ma will also face challenges in the policy arena. After being nominated, Ma has placed more emphasis on economic issues.
Ma is pledging to rejuvenate the Taiwanese economy while intentionally overlooking the fact that it is already recovering. The stock and real estate markets are surging, the unemployment rate is declining, and the economic growth rate is gradually improving. The extent to which Ma will frame the election debate with the "it's the economy stupid" card remains to be seen.
And if Ma chooses to play the "cross-strait direct link" card, he will have to offer an effective policy to counteract the national security problems that will naturally follow. And since Beijing insists that Taiwan unilaterally accept its "one China" policy as a condition for resuming talks, can Ma's suggestion of going back to the 1992 concept of a "one China with different interpretations" actually break the ice?