Sun, Nov 28, 2010 - Page 5 News List

2010 ELECTIONS: ANALYSIS: Despite northern setback, DPP is on the right track

IN MODERATIONAnalysts agreed that the DPP had no reason to return to an ideological approach, as it won the popular vote by more than 400,000 votes over the KMT

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporter

While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) did not make advances north of the Jhuoshui River (濁水溪) — the general boundary demarcating Taiwan’s northern and southern regions — in yesterday’s mayoral races, the elections gave the party a big boost in morale, as it won the popular vote.

The DPP clinched two out of the five special municipalities, but collected over 400,000 more votes than the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Yesterday’s elections were not a national poll, but they had national significance in projecting what might happen in 2012, political observers said. Many have seen the polls as a launching pad for the next presidential election as well as a vote of confidence on the policies and performance of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.

Despite the modest showing of her party, DPP Chairperson and mayoral candidate for Sinbei City Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will not need to step down as party officials have construed the result as a draw, political commentators said, adding that now Tsai and the party’s Taipei mayoral candidate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) are now closer to their aspirations for national office.

Before Tsai began to worry about her own future, her party was likely debating its future path. Analysts agreed that the party was unlikely to return to its old path of focusing on ideological and ethnic issues as its middle-of-the-road approach proved effective in yesterday’s elections even though it did not secure a big win.

Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), a research fellow at Taiwan Brain Trust, said it would only be to the DPP’s advantage to continue its moderate approach if it wishes to make gains in subsequent elections. Variables to watch out for will include the performance of the KMT administration, the impact of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) after it comes into force in January and the economy itself, he said.

National Taiwan University (NTU) political science professor Wang Yeh-lih (王業立), agreed, saying if the DPP wishes to make advances in the next national election, it should stick to the moderate approach and steer clear of a strategy of belligerence. If the DPP returns to power in 2012, Wang said he does not think the party would repeal the ECFA, although it might seek to make changes.

Several factors contributed to the DPP’s defeats in Taipei City, Taipei County (as Sinbei City is currently known as) and the greater Taichung area, according to the political watchers.

First, DPP candidates were seen as having a chance of turning the tide against the KMT. However, the shooting of former vice president Lien Chan’s (連戰) son, Sean Lien (連勝文), on Friday coupled with the pleasant and sunny weather, motivated more pan-blue supporters, especially those in northern Taiwan, to come out and vote.

Howerver, analysts declined to interpret the result as a failure of the DPP’s new campaign strategy since the party received a larger share of popular votes than the KMT.

The DPP’s efforts to tone down ideological and sovereignty issues in a bid to woo moderates, women and young people are bound to transform the nation’s political culture, they said.

Third, they suggested that the DPP candidates were not locals in the electoral constituencies in which they ran and thus lacked close connections with grassroots supporters. Despite this, they pointed out that the DPP’s Greater Taichung mayoral candidate Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) did make impressive progress in catching up with his KMT opponent in a short period of time which, they said, could suggest that many were disappointed at the performance of the two-term Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) of the KMT.

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