Sun, Aug 19, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: The DPP must find a cons

It is finally settled -- Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) will team up with former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) for next year's presidential election. The saga of how these two political heavyweights finally tied the knot had been no less perplexing and dramatic than Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential nominee Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) long search for a running mate and the hide-and-seek game between him and Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) before Ma finally settled for Vincent Siew (蕭萬長).

From the standpoint that the teaming up of the biggest political heavyweights within the party will increase the chances of an election win, the pairing of Hsieh and Su should please many people within the DPP. In light of all the grudges and unpleasantness built up between the Hsieh and Su camps during the DPP's party primary for the presidential nomination, one can honestly say that the time-honored tradition of the DPP where members always manage to pull together and show a united front in the face of external threats, despite internal bickering and divisions, continues to hold. The fact that the same kind of "happy ending" did not happen with Ma and Wang, who were equally divided and unhappy due to the result of a political power struggle within their party, demonstrates that point.

Obviously, pressure from within the party and the determination of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to play match maker were instrumental in the teaming up. However, now that the match has been made, can these two really work together seamlessly in unity during the months of campaigning ahead? That will depend on just exactly how "selfless" these two can be for the greater good of the party. The fact that former vice premier of the Executive Yuan Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), who had previously shown great interest in the vice presidential nomination, accepted an invitation from Hsieh to serve as his campaign director after Hsieh announced his choice of Su shows there is a consensus within the DPP to strive for unity.

The biggest question now is what stance they should take in regards the draft "Normal Country clause" unveiled by the DPP only a few weeks ago.

The draft clause states that the nation should change its name from the Republic of China (ROC) to Taiwan, so as to stop China exploiting the ROC name. This new draft deviates from the 1999 "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" passed by the DPP, through which the DPP acknowledges that Taiwan is already an independent country and that its name is the ROC.

The underlying stance of the 1999 resolution was more moderate, which many believed played a role in winning over the critically needed moderate and swing voters in the 2000 presidential election.

Eight years on, should the DPP return to what many deem as a more hawkish and aggressively pro-independence stance on the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty? There appears to be no consensus within the party on this point.

Some believe that the DPP is barely hanging onto the support of its grass-roots supporters -- let alone winning over the swing and moderate voters it needs to.

According to these members, the focus should be on strengthening grass-roots support. If this is the strategy that Hsieh adopts, then he should embrace the new draft. If Hsieh opts to distance himself from the new draft, he is bound to upset this traditional segment of DPP supporters, but he will have a shot at the swing voters.

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