When did the DPP become the Tsai Ing-wen party?

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At a recent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Central Standing Committee meeting, supporters of the sitting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) slammed the party's Secretary-General Lo Wen-jia (羅文嘉) for his proposed presidential primary agenda, shouting, "Is the party dominated by the secretary-general?"

The question reflected the mindset of the pro-Tsai camp, which is the party should spin around Tsai.

If the party is run for Tsai's benefit, however, what is the point of holding presidential and legislator primaries? Wouldn't it be easier to designate candidates according to Tsai's command? Is that what the party really stands for?

After the primary opened for registration, the party postponed its presidential primary from mid-April to sometime after May 22, with the date left undecided. To solve the dilemma and be responsible, the party's Central Standing Committee has to set up a tentative schedule to facilitate the upcoming primaries and official nomination.

Media reported that in a Central Standing Committee meeting on May 1, several pro-Tsai committee members bashed Lo for leaking the draft agenda to reporters before the meeting. Lo fought back by requesting an open discussion to sort things out. The members then bitterly accused Lo of being autocratic.

The party, however, has never reached a decision through one single person. This means it is neither the party Secretary-General nor the party chair, but the majority of the committee members will make the decision.

At present, the majority of which were appointed by Tsai when she served as the chair. After the defeat in the nine-in-one elections last year, Tsai resigned from the post, but the power structure of the committee has awkwardly remained unchanged.

Today, the committee controlled by pro-Tsai members is fixated on helping Tsai remain in power, but it is impeded by her only rival, former premier William Lai (賴清德). They are trying to prevent Lai from winning the primary by means of, for example, buying more time in favor of Tsai and postponing the primary agenda.

Sadly, the committee is trampling on the very basic democratic principles of the party, in favor of Tsai, and disregarding their roles and duties. People will be wondering: why not simply change the name of the party into the “Tsai Ing-wen Party” or “Tsai Ing-wen System” to make committee members' work easier.

(Lee Ping-hua is a senior media reporter for Taiwan News and Economic Daily News. Translated by Taiwan News Editor Sophia Yang)