A behind-the-scenes battle over how the next Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate will be chosen is threatening to disrupt an earlier consensus reached by senior party officials.
Splinters appeared after several influential party figures led by former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said they wanted the nomination process to include input from party members.
The DPP has been moving toward a selection mechanism that would only take into account telephone polls to choose its candidate, DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said after a meeting on Monday night.
The matter is set to be played out at a central executive committee meeting this afternoon, where Lu is expected to submit a petition that includes the names of more than 100 party delegates who back her proposal.
After meeting with DPP county councilors in Taoyuan, where she sought their support, Lu said her efforts reflected the “seriousness” of the matter, adding she did not expect the party to “strike down” her suggestion.
Her comments came as members of a DPP taskforce led by Su said they had reached a consensus on a mechanism whereby a candidate would be determined via a nationwide telephone survey, which would be held after a series of public debates.
Su said the decision, which was a break from past practice ahead of presidential elections, was to avoid another party split, where individual candidates would mobilize supporters to gain the advantage.
“[We] recognize that the only way we can win the 2012 presidential election is if the party is united for battle,” he said.
Any final decision will still have to be confirmed at the annual party congress meeting on Saturday, where Lu could raise the matter again if her proposal fails to gain traction today.
Su said both recommendations — the party’s version and Lu’s — would be submitted to the congress and have equal weight.
Lu has refused to speculate on a possible run for the presidency, but her proposal could increase her sway on the nomination, which is expected in March. Lu is believed to have the support of the party’s more traditional support base, a key segment for any future contender.
While DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) — believed to be the party’s leading contenders for the nomination — have avoided discussing the matter publicly, both are expected to ultimately back the recommendations made by the DPP taskforce.
In a sign of a deepening flap over the issue, former senior presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) told the Central News Agency that if the party insisted on just using telephone polls, he would likely quit the party.
Other supporters of Lu’s proposal include DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮), the former DPP caucus whip.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), a member of the party’s standing committee, said he did not believe the nomination mechanism to be an issue significant enough to sway the results of the nomination.
Based on past experience, a nomination conducted via telephone polls or alongside a party vote would likely deliver the same result, he said.
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