A national policy adviser to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said on Friday that a Su-Tsai ticket, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), to represent the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2008 presidential election is already taking shape.
Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), the editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly Magazine, made the remarks while giving a briefing on Taiwan's political situation to Taiwanese expatriates in the greater Washington area after attending the annual Congressional National Prayer Breakfast the previous day.
Chin said that both Chen's New Year and Lunar New Year speech were aimed at paving the way for the Su-Tsai ticket to win the election. Both messages have raised widespread concern in the US.
Chin said that as far as he knows, the president did not make the remarks "on a whim," but instead contemplated them for quite some time. Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) called on the president before his Lunar New Year speech, conveying to the president a resolution to scrap the National Unification Council and unification guidelines passed in a meeting of the World Taiwanese Congress, an organization formed by pro-Taiwan independence groups in the US, in December 2000.
Chin said that the president's two speeches "were a response to his core supporters."
He said that the DPP suffered a major setback in last December's elections because it lost many of its "core supporters" by trying to court middle-of-the-road voters.
"The core supporters ended up not voting because they thought Chen was not being loyal to them and they wanted to teach the party a lesson," Chin claimed.
The lesson the DPP learned from its drubbing in the elections is that it has to solidify support among its core supporters and then expand to the middle-of-the-road voters. If it continues to ignore its core supporters while tilting toward the middle-of-the-road voters, it risks losing both sets, Chin said.
He added that in Taiwan, where the pan-green camp and the opposition pan-blue camp are so clearly divided, the middle-of-the-road voters could be the most apathetic toward politics and therefore the least likely to cast their votes.
Such voters tend to vote for candidates that have the better chance of winning, and they usually vote for specific candidates rather than particular parties.
"Even if you have done your best to woo them, the effect could be minimal," Chin continued.
With two years remaining in Chen's second and final term, Chin said that Chen's paramount task will be to ensure that the DPP continues to rule the nation, which he called "an extremely tough challenge" for the president.
For this reason, when Chen was thinking about the possible candidates to head the new Cabinet, he had to choose whether the new premier would be an executive director to him or his successor in 2008, and he chose the latter, Chin claimed.
Chen's New Year message and Lunar New Year speech were in fact a response to core supporters, Chin said. "He wanted to ensure the core supporters would remain loyal before releasing power to give Su's Cabinet room to shine and use Su's political performance to expand the party's support base," Chin observed.