The DPP's 88 legislators will today vote for their three caucus whips, with support from the New Tide faction seen as crucial to the five candidates' hopes of success.
Up for grabs are the posts of chief convener, chief executive and secretary general, who each serve one-year terms.
Chief convener Ker Chien-ming (
"We will clearly indicate our choice after the luncheon meeting on Monday," said senior Legislator Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌), leader of the New Tide faction. "The rumor that we will jointly vote for Shen is not true.
"I must clarify that there are two conditions we have to consider before making the final choice. One is whether the Presidential Office has any preference and second, whether Ker or Shen can get at last three votes by themselves," he said.
Hong added that the Presidential Office has praised Ker's performance and encouraged him to run for another term.
Shen has frequently been at odds with President Chen Shui-bian (
While Ker and Shen are fighting for the support of the same faction, caucus secretary general Hsu Jung-shu (
Chief executive Wang Tuoh (
Another candidate supported by the loosely formed "Mainstream Alliance" is Chiu Chuei-chen (
However, the "Mainstream Alliance" is hoping to get two whip posts, endangering the election prospects of both Hsu and Chiu.
Chen Chi-mai (
To win the posts, a candidate needs the votes of 23 of the 88 lawmakers.
The New Tide faction and its allies control a combined 20 votes, while the Welfare State faction has around 14 members. The other 28 either belong to three smaller factions or are independents.
The lawmaker who gets the most votes usually becomes chief convener. The one who gets the second highest will become chief executive and the third secretary general. In the event of a tie the posts will be decided through negotiation.
To ensure that all members vote for designated candidates, most party factions ask their members to "unwittingly" show their votes before casting.
However, caucus discipline panel leader Wang Hsing-nan (王幸男) warned yesterday that anyone who violates the principle of secret voting will be sent to the party's Central Reviewing Committee and may be severely punished.
Opinions from the Presidential Office will be the last determining factor in the nominations this time because the whips will play an important role in Chen's re-election bid in 2004.