DPP prepares to elect new leader

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party was preparing to elect a new leader Sunday in a major change ahead of the year-end local elections and the 2016 presidential poll.
Incumbent chairman Su Tseng-chang and former Premier Frank Hsieh said they were dropping their campaigns after the student occupation of the Legislative Yuan last March and April.
Ex-chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen stayed in the race, while former Kaohsiung County Vice Magistrate Kuo Tai-lin, who is little known nationally, became her only challenger.
In addition to a top leader, DPP members will also elect local party chiefs and congress delegates nationwide.
In an online statement Saturday, Tsai called on party members to come out in force, and to start changing Taiwan by changing the DPP first. Her mission was to make people believe in political parties again, she said.
The powerful impact of the student occupation of the Legislature in protest against the trade-in-services pact with China and the subsequent protests against the fourth nuclear plant were interpreted as signs that the social movements were coming to the forefront and marginalizing the DPP.
The people should trust the party sufficiently again to put their hopes for the country, society, their families and themselves in its hands again, Tsai said. The DPP needed to become a party with a future, with tolerance and with a sense of action, she added.
Tsai emphasized that she could not change the party or the country alone, but that she needed the cooperation of many to help her.
Both Tsai and Su are widely regarded as the most likely contenders to represent the DPP in the 2016 presidential election. While Su might fade slightly in the background now that he ends his two-year term as party chairman, Tsai faced demands from some leaders that a chairperson should not run for president.
The new DPP leader will have to manage the campaign for the November 29 local and regional elections, in which the opposition party hopes to conquer at least half the city mayoral and county magistrate positions. One of the highlights of the campaign is the June 12 race between DPP lawmaker Yao Wen-chih and popular independent physician Ko Wen-je to become the opposition candidate for mayor of Taipei City.
Once the elections over, attention will soon focus on who will run for president in 2016 when incumbent Ma Ying-jeou’s second and final term comes to an end.
The list of potential contenders on the Kuomintang side includes New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu, Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin and Vice President Wu Den-yih.