Former vice premier Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took nearly 60 percent of the votes in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson race yesterday to become the party's first chairwoman.
About 129,000 of the party’s 250,000 eligible members voted in yesterday’s election, making the turnout 51.7 percent. Tsai triumphed with 73,892 votes, or 57.1 percent, while former senior presidential adviser, 82-year-old Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), received 48,882 votes, or 37.8 percent.
Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮), who dropped out of the race to throw his support behind Koo, received 6,530 votes as his withdrawal was anounced too late for his name to be erased from the ballots.
Tsai topped Koo in most constituencies except for Chiayi City, Penghu, Hualien, Chuanghua and with overseas party members.
Outgoing DPP chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), accompanied by Tsai and Koo, held a press conference at DPP headquarters in Taipei to announce Tsai’s victory.
“With more than 73,000 party members voting for her, Miss Tsai Ing-wen has officially been elected the new chairwoman of the party,” Hsieh said. “I would like to offer my congratulations to her.”
Koo conceded defeat immediately and congratulated Tsai.
The chairwoman-elect vowed to overcome all challenges.
“As the party chair race comes to an end, our challenges are just beginning,” Tsai said. “After [tomorrow], we will become an opposition party, and will have no more resources — but I am determined to lead the party into a new age.”
She said that under her leadership the DPP would work more closely with civic groups and grassroots organizations.
“The DPP will protect Taiwan’s sovereignty, its democracy and insist on social justice,” she said. “I’m confident that we can restore the public’s faith in the party and the DPP will rise again.”
Asked about power struggles and conflicts among the party’s many factions, Tsai said she was not concerned.
“Of course there were conflicts during the [party chair] race, but there were no wounds,” she said. “And as a party that’s going out of power, I don’t think there will be any power struggles. Instead, there will be only shouldering of responsibility — and we welcome anyone to join us to share that responsibility.”
Tsai said she would seek advice from inside and outside the party.
“I will start by talking to Koo and Chen Shih-meng [陳師孟], since they’ve presented many great ideas during the election campaign,” Tsai said.
Chen was the top campaigner for Koo during the party chair race.
As former chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Tsai said she would pay close attention to the new Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s cross-strait policies.
“We’ll remind them when their policies lack careful consideration and we’ll criticize them when they make mistakes,” Tsai said.
Immediately after Hsieh announced the election results a DPP member surnamed Huang (黃) appeared at the press conference venue and shouted out: “The election is invalid! The valid vote number is zero!”
He was quickly removed by party staff.
In addition to electing the party chairperson, DPP members also voted for directors of the party’s local chapters.
Several former legislators who were defeated in January’s legislative elections won local chapter directorships, including Taipei County director Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡), Miaoli County director Tu Wen-ching (杜文卿), Taichung County’s Kuo Chun-ming (郭俊銘), Chunghua County’s Charles Chiang (江昭儀) and Tainan County’s Cheng Kuo-chung (鄭國忠).