The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is set to begin a period of transition today when Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) chairs her first party meeting as interim chairperson and the party tries to regroup following its loss in the presidential election.
The DPP Central Standing Committee meeting, which is expected to focus primarily on the May 27 elections for chairperson and party representatives, is Chen’s first meeting at the helm of the party since taking over from former chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on March 1.
Former Tainan county commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) is expected to announce his bid in the morning, formally beginning the race for the leadership of the party.
The DPP has drawn heavy criticism for its passiveness from several party members and political critics since January’s elections.
Former DPP legislator Kuo Cheng-liang (郭正亮) said the party was “brain-dead,” while another former DPP lawmaker, Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), said the 40-member DPP legislative caucus has been “overshadowed” by the Taiwan Solidarity Union, which has only three legislators.
Aside from the party’s China policy, seen by some as the primary reason for its loss, the chairperson election has been one of the most discussed topics within the party because the chair will hold influence over the nomination process for the 2016 presidential election and have a hand in any elections during the next two years.
The DPP chairperson serves a two-year term.
Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who is believed to be interested in running in the next presidential election, has been tipped as “the most viable candidate,” but has yet to formally announce his intentions to run for party chair.
Chen Chu has made it clear that she does not intend to contest the position.
Tsai is barred from entering the race, since she has served two two-year terms as party head. However, she still enjoys support from some within the party for her candidacy in the 2016 presidential election.
Tsai is expected to establish a foundation with her election subsidy, estimated at about NT$120 million (US$4.1 million), to “keep her momentum going,” according to a source close to Tsai, who wished to remain anonymous.
Other issues scheduled to be discussed in today’s meeting include the party’s stance on imports of US beef and reform of the party, which could involve structural changes and reactivation of its grassroots headquarters.
In related developments, a group of pro-Taiwan independence organizations laid out five criteria for the next DPP chairperson in a joint press conference yesterday, saying veteran politicians should give way to the younger generation.
The criteria are a firm position on Taiwanese identity, a perspective on international affairs, a sense of historical responsibility, the ability to consolidate the party, and the ability to lay out a vision and formulate policies, said Wu Shu-ming (吳樹民), president of the Taiwan Society.
Cheng Cheng-iok (鄭正煜), former president of the Taiwan South Society, urged senior DPP politicians to withdraw from the election and refrain from waging “proxy wars” by placing candidates from their factions in the race.
The new chairperson should be able to carry out reform of the party with courage and vision, as well as collaborating with civil groups, said Wu Rong-i (吳榮義), president of the Taiwan Brain Trust think tank.
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