Wed, May 28, 2008 - Page 3 News List

DPP chair plans grassroots tour

NEW FACE Democratic Progressive Party sources said that Tsai Ing-wen already had the backing of middle-class voters. Now the party hopes to broaden that support

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is planning a grassroots tour of the nation for new Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to help reinvigorate the party’s image, DPP sources said yesterday.

A party official said Tsai, who took the helm of the party last Wednesday, had spent her first week filling major DPP posts.

“Now that major posts have been filled and a combat team for next year’s local elections has been formed, the party has to think how to help Tsai boost the party’s image, or even reshape its image and determine its orientation,” the party official said.

The DPP is trying to regroup after suffering a bruising defeat in the March 22 presidential election and a drubbing in the Jan. 12 legislative elections, which saw the party secure just 27 seats out of 113 in the Legislative Yuan.

Sources said the party would target three groups: grassroots DPP members — especially low-income and senior members — middle-class voters and young DPP members.

The sources said that since its inauguration on May 20, the new government has failed to come up with good policies to deal with looming inflation and fuel price hikes that are closely related to the public and the nation’s economy.

For middle and lower-income DPP members, their lives will be worse rather than better under the new government, they said. Tsai has to understand this phenomenon and together with other party members come up with a new party strategy.

They said that communication with grassroots members would not be a “fleeting” one as with past party chairmen and that they were now planning for Tsai to spend more time with grassroots members, including longer visits to their areas.

DPP officials also said that Tsai’s acceptance rate from middle-class voters was the highest among all party chairs. This was because Tsai, a former vice premier, was from the same class, spoke the same language and had the same views, they said.

The next challenge will be to turn the support for Tsai among middle-class voters into political identification with the party, the sources said.

This could be a difficult task, but it could also be an opportunity for the party to broaden its support base, they said.

In addition, more than 2,000 young people answered a call by former DPP chairman and presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) during the presidential campaign to join the party, they said.

These young members have passion, high expectations and should be a big boost to Tsai’s efforts to reform the party, the sources said.

A party official said that the party was now planning to arrange for Tsai to have face-to-face contact with the young members so that she can hear their views directly.

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