Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL:Getting off to a slow start

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) finally announced the makeup of her presidential campaign team on Wednesday, after a month of drawn-out consultations and speculation. The team sees the return of many familiar faces from former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) era, a risky move given Tsai’s promise to cultivate new talent and the well-documented past rivalries between several of the DPP heavyweights she named to her team, and one that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is already trying to exploit to its own advantage.

Three former premiers — Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) — all of whom jockeyed for position during the waning years of the Chen administration and have sought power ever since, make up the bulwark of Tsai’s team. They have been given a variety of impressive-sounding titles — campaign chairman, chief campaign commander, chief supervisor and fundraising chairman — making it difficult to distinguish who will be leading whom.

Chen alluded in one of his many posts from behind bars that the 2008 DPP campaign was doomed from the start because Hsieh and Su could never get along. However, they have now decided to work together to put Tsai in the Presidential Office, putting aside their issues for the greater goal of returning the DPP to power next year.

On the surface, it looks as though Su and Hsieh, who had a falling out after they were trounced by then-KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in the 2008 election, have put aside their differences to support Tsai in her bid for the presidency.

Tsai’s aides Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁), who once served as DPP secretary-general and who represents the former New Wave faction, and DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) were also given top spots — chief director and executive director. Although the confusing array of titles leave one to wonder who is in charge of what, Wu is likely to be the most influential person behind the scenes, given his proximity to Tsai, while the others give a show of face to Su Tseng-chang, their boss and the proverbial queen-maker.

However, the makeup of Tsai’s campaign team suggests that the DPP has made a deliberate effort to highlight party unity ahead of everything else, even though that runs counter to a promise Tsai made to cultivate new talent.

KMT spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) jumped on this fact as soon as the team was announced, saying the lineup reflected the older generation of the DPP. If Tsai’s campaign is successful and the party regains the Presidential Office, she would be expected to reward her team with Cabinet positions. However, to do so would risk sending the message that the government is returning to the configuration of the Chen years.

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question is who Tsai’s running mate will be? Until recently, many had speculated that it would be Su Jia-chyuan, but his new appointment makes that less likely. Who, then? Is Tsai going to surprise us with somebody fresh or call on another face from the past?

Ma has already announced Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) as his running mate, which was no surprise. However, the choice of a running mate is just one of the campaign decisions Tsai needs to make, and make quickly. She is already more than a week behind, with her first campaign office still shuttered while Ma’s is up and running.

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