Wed, Jul 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Year-end elections key for Ma, Su

PARTY POLITICS Both the DPP chairman and his soon-to-be KMT counterpart have their eyes on the 2008 election -- but the December polls are crucial for them

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to cement their role as leading contenders for the 2008 presidential elections, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) chairman-elect, and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) will have to go all out to ensure their parties emerge victorious in the year-end elections. For both men, those polls will be a war that they cannot afford to lose.

Although Ma seems to have secured his grip to be the KMT's nominee for the 2008 poll by winning a landslide victory over Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) in last Saturday's KMT chairmanship election, Ma offended many key party officials and members of Wang's camp with what they perceived as his negative campaign strategy in the final days of the campaign.

MENDING FENCES

"Ma will have a hard time reconciling with most of the party members and tackling the tough work of integrating the pan-blues, including the People First Party [PFP], said Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a political analyst at Academia Sinica.

Other analysts predicted that Ma may end up with a Pyrrhic victory if he doesn't straighten out his difficulties with Wang.

"Ma will have big troubles if he can't appease Wang," said Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏), a political reporter and TV commentator.

"Ma has to be aware of the fact that Wang is capable of making him a mere figurehead in the KMT given Wang's experience and familiarity with party affairs," Chien said.

Hsu said Ma will have to fight hand-to-hand with the DPP, including President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Su, to set the political agenda, adding that the year-end election will be a direct test for both Ma and Su.

There is no doubt that Ma and Su are the two main hopefuls for the 2008 election at this moment. Their first head-to-head fight will be the December elections for county commissioners and mayors in which they will be campaign for their party's nominees.

The election result will have a direct impact on their positions in their parties and will determine whether they will be considered qualified to represent the parties in 2008.

If Ma can calm the internal unrest in the KMT and get other key members to help him win the year-end elections, then his status as a "common leader" in the pan-blue camp will be certain and his winning the nomination for 2008 a given, analysts said.

SU'S LEARNING CURVE

The same is true for Su. While Su may be his party's chief, he does not have many government resources -- at least not as many as his main rival within the DPP, Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

Su has said that he took the DPP chairmanship to "prepare himself" for 2008. In fact, each local election is crucial to Su in terms of building up his power and cachet, as well as increasing his chance of capturing the 2008 nomination. The year-end elections are the only stage that Su has at this point, analysts said.

If Su messes up the year-end elections, then he will have to say goodbye to the Presidential Office for good," Chien said.

"The New Tide Faction (新潮流) -- the largest faction in the DPP and also the most realistic one -- will soon abandon Su and turn to other more powerful and capable candidates to assure the DPP continuing to govern," he said.

Coincidentally, both Ma and Su both have to compete with strong opponents in governmental posts for the 2008 nominations.

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