Former Presidential Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) declared yesterday that his landside victory as the next chairman of the governing Democratic Progressive Party showed that "the DPP has the resolution to reform and progress."
Yu, a former premier and Yilan County magistrate, won yesterday's by-election with 25,397 votes, or 54.4 percent of the 46,649 valid ballots cast, compared to 16,846 or 36.1 percent for DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮) and 4,406 or 9.4 percent for former Changhua County Magistrate Wong Chin-chu.
Total turnout, including overseas votes, was 20 percent of the 234,874 DPP members eligible to vote.
The election was needed after former DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) resigned in the wake of the governing party's major setback in local elections on December 3.
Yu's margin of victory resulted from winning heavily in Taipei County, Taipei City, Yilan County, and carrying all other cities and counties except for Wong's native Changhua County, and Taoyuan and Penghu counties.
The result also marked the failure of the high-profile effort by former DPP chairman and fellow Yilan native Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) to derail Yu's candidacy by backing Wong and declaring that Yu was unfit to run due to his involvement in the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration.
Voting proceeded smoothly in 124 locations across Taiwan, but turnout was sparse with the exceptions of Yu's Yilan County, which recorded the top turnout of 44.1 percent out of 5,556 members, and the home counties of the other two candidates.
Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), in her capacity as interim DPP chairwoman, related that although the turnout was "not ideal," the DPP had conducted a "clean and fair election with style" and expressed her congratulations to Yu.
"Yu can definitely be like (former) Chairman Su (Tseng-chang) and maintain the DPP's core values of nativism, integrity and democratic reform," Lu stated.
Lu, who earlier yesterday had insisted that her term as interim chairwoman would last until February 8, suddenly stated at the DPP headquarters that "perhaps we can push forward the transfer" of office.
Yu thanked the interim chairwoman and party workers for smoothly carrying out the election and to the party members who voted for "demonstrating that they still had expectations of the DPP and hoped the DPP will become more progressive."
The incoming chairman stated that the reform and transformation of the DPP "cannot be done by just one person but requires the entire party to fight together and so that everyone can turn their wisdom and voices into a force for the further progress of the DPP."
Yu also stated that the campaign could serve as an example for future intraparty and countrywide elections in that "there was no negative campaigning or personal attacks."
Asked by reporters how the chairman-elect would realize his proposal for "collective decision-making between party and government," Yu replied that consultations would be needed among the DPP headquarters, Executive Yuan, DPP legislative caucus and the Office of the President to establish the new system.
Yu revealed his views on relations between the party and government when asked about whether the DPP-led Executive Yuan would call for a reconsideration of the Legislative Yuan's passage of a radically sliced central government budget.
The chairman-elect stated that "without advance party consultation, it would be difficult to maintain the common speech and action, without which it would be impossible to secure passage."
Yu also told media gathered outside his Taipei City residence that he "did not exclude" attempting to arrange a meeting with Kuomintang Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), so long as such a meeting was not "just a formality."
Besides thanking his supporters, Chai, who had enjoyed the support of the DPP's Welfare Country faction, expressed his congratulations to the new chairman and stated that "the DPP has competition and cooperation and, after everyone has fought hard in the election, we must accept the result and unite and cooperate for the DPP."
In a statement read by DPP Secretary-General Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋), Wong similarly expressed gratitude to her supporters, said the competitive campaign was "very significant," and urged all the party to support the new chairman.
Asked about the result, Yu Shyi-kun Campaign Office spokesman Liu Chien-hsin stated Yu won because of his accumulated experience and high name recognition and image as a "serious and clean politician."
"We also made a strong effort to show that we had concrete proposals for reform and political positions," said Liu.
He stated that most voters appeared to cast their ballots autonomously, even if they were "mobilized" by party factions and commented that Chai, who had earlier predicted that he would receive over 25,000 votes, "over-estimated" the reliability of organization votes.