Tue, May 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: Wu Den-yih gearing up for 2016 presidential election

PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRATIONS:While the vice president currently holds the advantage, he could still face tough competition from New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu

By Wang Yu-chung  /  Staff reporter

Then-vice president-elect Wu Den-yih attends an awards ceremony for volunteers organized by the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China on May 5.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

Although President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) popularity has dipped to new lows following unpopular policy decisions, his right-hand man, Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), is said to be gearing up for a bid as the candidate for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the 2016 presidential election.

Everything appears to be proceeding as planned for Wu, who has been tipped by some analysts as the favorite to represent the KMT in the next presidential election, despite a spate of public outrages targeting Ma and his administration.

Wu has garnered his “guaranteed ticket” to the 2016 election after winning the Jan. 14 presidential election with Ma, sources in the Ma camp said.

As a senior politician who has great political ambitions, is extremely ingenious and has a full grasp of Ma’s preferences, Wu most certainly would not hand over his hard-earned advantage to other hopefuls, the sources said.

According to party sources, Wu has long been laying the groundwork for contesting the 2016 election — such as extending his influence at the grassroots level by participating in a series of post-election thank-you parades and putting a team together by picking individuals from Ma’s campaign team, subordinates of Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) and pan-blue pundits as his aides in the next four years.

Expressing optimism about Wu’s political prospects, KMT Legislator Wu Yu-jen (吳育仁) said the vice president was a seasoned leader with a wealth of political experience.

Wu Den-yih has not only mastered the art of communication, he also has perfected interaction with and serves as a good complement to Ma, Wu Yu-jen said.

KMT Central Standing Committee member Lee Te-wei (李德維) also praised Wu Den-yih’s political skills, saying he has a firm grasp of the public pulse.

Whether or not Wu Den-yih can take his political career to the next level, Lee said he hoped the vice president would be a good right-hand man to Ma in governing the country in the next four years.

Despite his predominant position in the fight to become Ma’s “designated successor,” Wu Den-yih could face tough competition from his potentially biggest rival, New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), analysts said.

According to an analysis by senior party members, Wu Den-yih and Chu could cross swords over a chance for the top post as early as the beginning of 2014, when the first seven-in-one local elections take place.

The key factor in this contest is whether Wu Den-yih could confine Chu to the mayoral post, or whether Chu could break free of the restraints and take the battle to the party’s presidential nomination, fighting each other off through public opinion polls, they said.

A member of the Ma camp said that someone other than Ma could play the decisive role in sealing the victory of either of the two.

While Chu appears to be out of favor as Ma’s heir-apparent — following his fall from the post of vice premier to New Taipei City mayor — both Chu and Wu Den-yih are expected to make an all-out effort to draw in Ma’s campaign team, the party member said.

This battle between the two party heavyweights could trigger a domino effect, touching off a new wave of reshuffles in the party’s hierarchy, the party member said.

To fully exercise and fortify his position, Wu Den-yih would most likely adopt a two-point strategy of “esteeming Ma and defending Ma,” senior party members said.

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