Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday played down criticism from his long-time political rival and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) upon his return to Taipei after a six-day visit to Europe, stressing party consolidation in an election year.
Su dodged media inquiries about Hsieh’s criticism against his leadership and intention to run both in the chairman election in May and the presidential election in 2016, saying that the most important task for the party is “consolidation and answering the public’s concerns.”
“The most important task for the DPP is consolidation and winning the seven-in-one local election [in November],” Su told reporters at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
Hsieh was quoted by former DPP lawmaker Julian Kuo (郭正亮) as saying in a recent private conversation that he would make Su “miserable to the very end” if the “incompetent” chairman dared to declare a bid on the party’s presidential nomination as a re-elected chairman.
As Kuo’s article was published after Su’s departure and several lawmakers who are close to Hsieh began advocating the idea that the party chairman should not be a presidential candidate around the same time, the moves had been interpreted as an indication of Hsieh’s interests in vying for the DPP chairmanship despite Hsieh giving ambiguous answers about his possible bid.
Hsieh was also reportedly seeking to form a coalition with former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in an the arrangement that would allow Hsieh to run for chairman and Tsai to focus on her presidential campaign.
Tsai, who denied the existence of such an alliance, said yesterday during a visit to New Taipei City (新北市) that while consolidation would be crucial, “the DPP’s inner competition would be inevitable,” adding that the practical goal would be “harmonious competition within the party and the eventual election of a chairman with the mandate of strong member support and social recognition.”
The former DPP presidential candidate has been tight-lipped about her plans, but could have the same strategy as Su, looking to win the chairmanship before securing the presidential nomination.
The highlights of Su’s trip to Germany, Belgium and the UK included visits to the European Parliament and the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where he said in a speech that the DPP would not revise the Taiwan independence clause in its party charter, but that the party would seek active and confident engagement with China.