With the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) set to elect a new chairperson in May, intra-party competition for the top job is already heating up.
Sources say that DPP Central Standing Committee member Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) has already informed party colleagues that he intends to run for the position.
At the same time, a number of local DPP leaders have become more vocal in their calls for former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) to run, in the hope that Su’s experience in government and running election campaigns will enable the DPP to do well in the seven-in-one elections scheduled for 2014.
Following the amendment of the Local Government Act (地方制度法) passed by the legislature in January 2010, this will involve the simultaneous election of municipal mayors, municipal councilors, county commissioners and city mayors, county and city councilors, township mayors, township civic representatives and borough wardens.
Most party members are waiting to see whether Su throws his hat into the ring.
DPP Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) said the election of the new party leader would follow -democratic procedures, adding that she hopes those who run will detail their plans for the party and work to persuade party members that they are the best person for the job.
“Su is a very good candidate for party chairman,” Lin said, adding there are no question marks over his moral integrity or executive administrative abilities.
DPP Changhua County party headquarters chairman Charles Chiang (江昭儀) said Su was widely considered a potential presidential candidate for 2016 and that with his experience, “Su is the person to be party chairman.”
In addition to legislators, sources say that Su has also -received several calls from residents in Pingtung and New Taipei City (新北市) asking him to run for the position of party chairperson. Many have said that in the post-Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) era, the DPP will need a strong leader.
With the DPP’s loss in the Jan. 14 presidential election still fresh in everyone’s mind, some party members have said that any talk of the 2016 presidential election is impractical, particularly because the DPP must first win the 2014 seven-in-one elections if it is to have a chance at victory in 2016.
Su is said to be considering the opinions of those urging him to run.
Other sources in the party have said that while other potential candidates mull their options, Chai is the only one to have confirmed his intention to run. He was even soliciting support from DPP legislators and local party headquarter chairpersons when answering New Year’s well-wishing telephone calls.
With Tsai stepping down at the end of this month, the issue of who will act as interim chairperson until May is another question the party needs to answer.
Many DPP county commissioners and city mayors have privately expressed a preference for Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who is one of the most popular figures in the party, to assume the position.
If Chen declines the appointment, DPP convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) could become acting chairperson.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer