Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday concluded her post-election nine-day “thank you tour” in eastern Taiwan, saying the party would rise again if it kept cultivating its grassroots supporters and if its supporters stick together.
Tsai, who had been traveling nationwide since Jan. 28 to express gratitude to supporters after losing the Jan. 14 presidential election, also bade farewell to supporters before stepping down as party chair on March 1.
Speaking in Hualien yesterday morning, Tsai said the combined presidential and legislative elections last month were great challenges for the DPP four years after it lost the 2008 presidential election in a landslide.
“The party had to deal with the pressure of readjustment after the 2008 loss and had to learn how to win in the relatively new electoral system of the single-district legislative elections,” Tsai said.
The election results were less satisfying than DPP supporters had hoped, with Tsai losing to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) by 800,000 votes and the DPP winning 40 of 113 legislative seats, despite having hoped to win a majority in the legislature.
“We have to go back and face reality. And we will not win the next election unless we take time to deal with a lot of fundamental issues honestly,” she said.
The DPP has to ask itself if “it is strong enough” to deal with the general political situation, as well as its own structural problem, she said.
If the answer is no and the political situation is not favorable to the DPP, she added, then the party should look at its disadvantages seriously.
Although the DPP highlighted its Aborigine policy and worked hard to appeal to voters on the east coast, its share of the vote in eastern Taiwan was disappointing, with Tsai winning only 25.9 percent of the vote in Hualien against Ma’s 70.3 percent and 30.5 percent in Taitung against Ma’s 66.5 percent.
One of the most important tasks, which had long been ignored, was to put effort into working with local communities and constituents — a priority for DPP local representatives as well as legislators from now on, Tsai said.
“The DPP’s politicians and representatives have to be seen and to be accessible so people know the party is always there for them,” she said.
Tsai said the DPP made some progress in the region because Aborigines considered the DPP “a possible option at the ballot box.”