Yu Shyi-kun's (游錫堃) victory as the new DPP chairman should enhance stability by expanding consultation between the party and government and will boost the DPP's ability to compete with the opposition Kuomintang, political analysts commented yesterday.
Institute for National Policy Research Executive Director Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) told Taiwan News that "Yu's election is a positive result that will promote stable and steady reform and maintain a cooperative relationship between the DPP and the government."
Lo stated that electing DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮) or former Changhua County commissioner Wong Chin-chu would have led to confrontation between the party and government.
Lo stated that Yu won thanks to his "comprehensive experience" as a former premier and presidential secretary-general and because he was the only leader of truly national stature in the race.
"This election was actually more related to inter-party competition than to intra-party reform," said Lo, who suggested the key question posed was "who will be able to lead the DPP to effectively compete with and counter the KMT" under its new chairman, Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Lo said "DPP voters realized that a leader of national standing was needed to both counter the KMT and unite the DPP and realize that their main adversary is the KMT.
"Yu has advocated a system of joint decision making between the party and government, which would give the party more voice and participation in the policy and decision-making process," Lo said.
The INPR analyst stated that the pressure for greater party voice in government decision making is "due to the changes in the wider environment, not just to Yu's personal position."
"In the past five years, the party has had virtually no policy and little voice," observed Lo.
After the DPP supplanted the Kuomintang as Taiwan's ruling party in May 2000, most saw the party's policy as equivalent to the government's policy, but in the past five years, the government's policy has been widely seen as having compromised many core DPP positions.
"Therefore, it is necessary for the DPP to regain credibility and trust by having its own voice," Lo said.
However, Lo stressed that "if the new chairman wants to boost the party's participation in collective decision-making, the DPP will have to bolster its own policy research and analysis capability so that it will have something to produce and contribute."
"The biggest factor remains President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), since he has the power and can give the Executive Yuan and DPP room to participate if he is willing," observed Lo.
The INPR analyst noted that Yu pointedly maintained a distance from the president during the campaign and that President Chen did not endorse any candidate, including Yu.
Lo noted that although Yu won with a majority, over 40 percent of the voting DPP members expressed dissatisfaction with President Chen by voting for Chai and Wong, who criticized Yu, calling him Chen's "proxy."
"Contemporary" Monthly editor in chief Chin Heng-wei (金�筊m) said, "Yu was the candidate with the most experience in government as a county magistrate, premier and presidential secretary-general.
"If someone with this kind of comprehensive experience had lost, the DPP would have suffered a collective failure," Chin said.
He added that Yu would continue to stress core DPP values, including a strong emphasis on Taiwan sovereignty."
"Chai criticized Yu because the second-phase constitutional re-engineering proposed by the Office of the President would not impact the definition of national territory, but Yu stated that those were not his views," related Chin.
Chin said that Yu faces many stiff tests, including the Taipei and Kaohsiung municipal mayoral and city council elections at the end of this year and the Legislative Yuan elections at the end of 2007.
"There is a considerable possibility that Yu could become a candidate for the March 2008 presidential election, but his greatest responsibility is ensuring that the DPP has a chance to win and that the DPP candidate with the best chance to win is running," Chin stated.