Wed, Dec 28, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Power struggle heating up in election for DPP chair

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The election for the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) chairperson will not simply be a case of choosing a new DPP leader; it will also be a cut-throat war between DPP factions, who are eager to gain dominance, political analysts said yesterday.

Since Dec. 3, the day that the DPP suffered an unprecedented election debacle in local elections, accusations and self-justification thrown back and forth among different party factions have not ceased. Although everyone in the DPP -- from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to rank-and-file members -- agrees that implementing reforms will be the only way for the DPP to make a comeback, so far the by-election to choose the DPP's next chair looks more like an extension of the conflict between DPP factions, one of the factors that lead to the party's defeat earlier this month.

"Whether the by-election will be a starting point for the DPP's revamp or just a process of unseating someone is my question now," said Chiang Ming-chin (江岷欽), a professor of public administration at Taipei University.

"I think this by-election will be a sequel to the competition between the DPP's internal factions," Chiang said, pointing out that the candidates running for DPP chair represent different powers within the party.

The three DPP members vying for the post -- former Presidential Office secretary-general Yu Shyi-kun, pro-independence veteran and Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) and former Changhua County commissioner Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) -- have already begun their campaigns.

Wong obtained former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung's (林義雄) endorsement before joining the race, Chai has Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) backing and Yu is a favorite of the president.

Although Yu yesterday said in a television interview that the president has not intervened in the campaign and that the election is not an "anti-Chen or pro-Chen" war, political analysts said that Yu's words were opposite to the real situation.

"The by-election is virtually a war between the anti-Chen and pro-Chen powers," political analyst Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said yesterday.

Hsu said that Yu's victory would ensure Chen's power in the DPP, enabling him to retain influence on the political situation even as his presidential term comes to an end.

"The new DPP chairperson will have the right to make the nominations for the 2007 legislative elections and the person who has influence over the legislature or has the say over who to work with will be the person with the real the power," Hsu said.

Each DPP faction is also eyeing the 2008 presidential candidacy, and the chairmanship election will be the first round in that game.

The DPP has about 530,000 members, but only about 230,000 will be eligible to vote in next month's by-election.

According to DPP estimates, the voting rate will be about 40 percent and close to 90,000 members are expected to vote on Jan. 15.

In other words, the candidate who gains more than 50,000 votes will become the new chairperson.

So far, unlike Yu and Chai's active campaign strategies, Wong is taking a more low-key approach to promoting herself.

Wong began visiting local chapters and members on Monday, and over the next few weeks she will talk to social groups and party members belonging to minority groups, according to Wong's assistant Wu Jui-yuan (吳瑞遠).

"How Lin campaigns for Wong or what he says during the last few days [of the campaign] will be a key to the result," Chiang said.

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