Mon, Oct 20, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Chen's choice of running mate sparks DPP infighting

FLASH POINT The president has kept opponents guessing with his secretive strategy, but putting Annette Lu back on the list has led to fierce disputes in the party

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several leaders of political factions within the DPP are saying that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is deliberately manipulating the issue of his choice of a running mate for the upcoming election by keeping the outside world and the media guessing. But the issue is now spinning out of control and becoming a flash point for fierce factional infighting within the DPP.

"Over the past half year, President Chen Shui-bian's every move and strategy has tempted the outside to engage in a guessing game. The president's aides have also coordinated the release of messages, causing the media to list Taipei County Commissioner Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Council for Hakka Affairs Chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) as possible running mates," said DPP legislator Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌).

"The president's strategy is very clear: The first step is to encourage possible candidates to work hard and compete with each other. This can increase the DPP's chances in the election. Secondly, [he is] hinting to the outside world that he is not preparing to name Vice President Annette Lu," Hong said.

Chen has praised these people in turn at different occasions, thereby keeping the media guessing. However, in August, when the perception began to form that Su would be Chen's running mate, Su's opinion poll ratings slipped following the Luchou fire and the death of a contestant in a stair-climbing race at the county government building.

"According to undisclosed public opinion polls, the gap between a Chen-Su ticket and a Chen-Lu ticket has narrowed from 3 to 5 percentage points to just 1 to 2 percentage points," a presidential aide said.

The aide said that since Su can no longer boost Chen's support base, this can no longer serve as a motivation to persuade Lu to give up her bid for another term, so the president decided to return to square one and re-evaluate the situation.

"That was why President Chen last week deliberately praised Lu during a temple visit and when he met the Gambian president at the [Double Ten Day] banquet. The president is merely putting Lu back into his list of candidates. This does not mean he has decided to choose Lu," the aide said.

But many faction leaders within the DPP have expressed great unhappiness about this. Twenty-nine legislators have signed a petition proposing three suggestions in the hope that the president will re-evaluate the impact of his choice of a running mate in the election. People who signed the petition have said that they were simply opposing Lu.

"`Pro-Lu' and `anti-Lu' camps have taken shape in the DPP. The New Tide faction is an anti-Lu stronghold, while the Welfare State faction makes up the mainstay of pro-Lu people," DPP legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said.

"Even though the anti-Lu faction currently has a louder voice, the pro-Lu factions have already decided to join hands and launch a strategy of `encircling the center' by mobilizing grassroots supporters," Lee said.

According to Lee the reason for opposing Lu is very clear: the Chen-Lu ticket has a relatively low support base, and "Lu entirely ignored team [work]. She does not coordinate with each faction; instead, she always stirs up controversies for others to clean up. Support for Lu within the party is mainly due to considerations of factional balance and worries that Lu may become a troublemaker if she is not nominated, and become a time bomb waiting to explode in the presidential election," he said.

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