Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday said that while they would welcome a bid by DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for the presidency next year, the party should do everything in its power to avoid a repeat of the damaging primaries in 2008.
“The primaries ... left a sore wound [for the party],” DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) told reporters, adding he was concerned this year’s primaries might also turn ugly.
Former presidential and vice presidential candidates Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) were involved in a bitter dispute in the 2008 primaries, which saw the two trade barbs going into the telephone and party member polls.
Hsieh was nominated after beating Su in a telephone survey and taking 11 percent more in the party member vote.
Although the two have since experienced a reconciliation, the split is believed to have alienated supporters and exacerbated divisions within the party.
To prevent a repeat, the DPP has scrapped party member polls and Tsai has been an active proponent of holding debates over the presidential campaign.
Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), the DPP caucus chief who will take over as acting chairperson today, said he hoped more of these discussions would take place “especially after more potential candidates declare their intentions.”
In the meantime, he said he did not think that either Tsai or Su would engage in personal attacks against one another.
However, other DPP lawmakers were not so optimistic.
Tsai and Su were heavily favored in a Feb. 28 media poll on who would represent the party’s best chance to win next year’s presidential election, well ahead of former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who has already announced her intention to run.
Calling Tsai’s sudden announcement yesterday “surprising,” DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said she had expected that more discussions would be held beforehand.
“Two or three more meetings should have been held so everyone could first reach a consensus,” she said. “This sudden development ... is pretty unsettling.”
“Many people have called me to say ... they feel a big battle within the party is now inevitable,” Chiu said.