Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) returned to Taiwan yesterday evening after her trip to Europe, saying that election preparations and personnel planning were on track and have continued on schedule despite her one-week absence.
There has been some concern that the DPP has fallen behind in the election campaign, with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) expected to name several campaign officials and open his campaign office in a star-studded performance today.
The DPP has so far remained silent on when its first campaign office — in central Taiwan — would be opened, but it is expected to be some time in the middle of this month.
“Our campaign work has already begun, including the efforts by the planning committee,” Tsai said on her arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. “What we are doing now is fine-tuning our election framework and making it more complete.”
Efforts by the party’s promotions and organizations offices have been “ongoing,” she added.
Tsai is expected to announce her senior campaign officials — including Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as campaign chairperson — sometime soon, although the date has been changed several times. Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is also expected to be asked to help oversee the DPP’s legislative elections.
Asked when another meeting with Su, her former rival in the party primaries, would take place, Tsai said that any future discussions would take place after all the appointments were finalized.
Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), a former top aide to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), and former DPP secretary-general Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) are also expected to play prominent roles in Tsai’s future campaign office.
Tsai has suggested that campaign efforts will be focused on winning over the 1 million to 1.5 million undecided voters that she said would break the gridlock with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which along with the DPP each have a “support base” of about 6 million voters, she said.
Responding to how she planned to sway these voters, she said she believed the “most important challenge” was going to be devising a plan to resolve lagging private sector salaries and a still high unemployment rate.
“It is important that … we draft policies that convince the public that the government, or the future government, understands the [economic] problems we currently face. We need a determination to engage in far-reaching changes,” she said.
She said that the week-long trip, which included meetings with German and UK politicians, researchers and overseas Taiwanese groups, had given her “useful insight” in the topic of energy and her anti-nuclear policies, and an understanding of many areas “that we should learn from.”
Tsai added that important opinions on Taiwan’s current political situation were also exchanged.
“Everybody recognizes that democracy is Taiwan’s most precious asset,” she said, adding that democracy would be the basis to find the basis for stable cross-strait relations in the future.