Thu, Apr 28, 2011 - Page 1 News List

DPP’s Tsai to run for president

READY TO RUN:To increase DPP legislative seats and to upset Ma’s re-election bid, Tsai emphasized party unity regardless of how people voted in the primaries

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen smiles during a press conference at her campaign office in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will be nominated by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to run in next year’s presidential election, becoming the first woman in the nation’s history to run for the post.

Her narrow win in the part primaries means she will go on to run against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), four years after he trounced the DPP in a landslide vote on policies of economic growth and closer cross-strait ties.

While Tsai is all but certain to take the nomination, the final announcement will not take place until May 4 — when the DPP’s Central Standing Committee meets.

“I officially recognize and congratulate Tsai Ing-wen’s win,” said Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), the acting DPP chairperson while Tsai is taking a leave of absence.

“The verdict today marks the start of a new round of cooperation, but also new challenges and responsibilities,” Ker said.

Results of the official telephone polls — comparative surveys that were conducted on Monday and Tuesday — were disclosed by the DPP at noon yesterday.

They gave Tsai a higher support rating when matched against Ma than former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

In the DPP-commissioned surveys, both candidates led Ma, but Tsai took 42.5 percent to Ma’s 35 percent, while Su defeated Ma 41.1 percent to 33.8 percent, reflecting what for both were tightly fought primaries, with the two neck-and-neck in previous non-official polls.

Tsai and Su were closely matched, but under the party’s regulations the candidate with the higher support rating was declared the winner.

The disclosure brings to an end to a two-month race that remained restrained and civil amid a focus on uniting the party for the election. Su said afterwards that he respected the results and called for his supporters to back Tsai.

The victory for Tsai, a former law professor, broke gender barriers and represented a remarkable rise for a person who only joined the DPP seven years ago.

Tsai will face tough competition against Ma, whose administration has assailed her policies — from phasing out nuclear power to -favoring a more cautious -cross-strait -approach — as ideologically based and detached from current realities.

She will have seven months to convince voters before the combined elections take place in January next year.

“From this point forward, we only have one target. That is to unite the DPP and unite Taiwan, and to fight together to win next year’s legislative and presidential elections,” Tsai said in prepared remarks hours after the win. “Everybody in this party and the Taiwanese public must take on this heavy burden and win back Taiwan.”

Tsai has favored a more moderate China policy that she has described as more stable and consistent.

Early in the primaries, she also proposed phasing out -nuclear -energy by 2025 if alternative sources of energy can be found — a move that has attracted criticism from both inside and outside the DPP.

She has spearheaded the DPP’s “10-year master plan,” a paper on how the party plans to tackle future challenges, such as an aging population, environmental degradation and cross-strait policy, which is expected to play a key part in her campaign.

However, her first priority appears to center on ensuring that the party is united. Tsai used most of her prepared remarks yesterday to emphasize the need for DPP supporters to rally together, regardless of how they voted in the primaries, to increase the DPP’s seats in the legislature and to upset Ma’s re-election bid.

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