Wednesday, April 08, 2009

DPP Factions: Kumbaya not in our Karaoke Machine

Is there anything more predictable than a faction fight within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)? The controversy over the selection of the DPP candidate for Tainan county chief has apparently resulted in casualties, according to a Taipei Times report:
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Deputy Secretary-General Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) has cleared out his office at party headquarters, in a sign that infighting may have escalated over the party’s nomination for the year-end Tainan County commissioner election.
The problem was DPP faction infighting -- Chen Chi-mai appears to have belonged to the wrong faction. The New Tide faction apparently put forward their man, Lee Chun-yi, for the Tainan County Chief election. Mark Chen, the former Foreign Minister, thought to be close to former President Chen Shui-bian, objected to what he saw as factional moves, and announced he would run on his own, effectively splitting the DPP vote and giving the KMT a huge opportunity in the upcoming elections. Why is the DPP smaller than the KMT? Because too many DPP politicians think they are bigger than the party.

The DPP had formally banned factions back in 2006, but the New Tide faction, in the doghouse under Chen Shui-bian, is dominant now that Chen Shui-bian is behind bars. The report noted:
Factions have long played a role within the DPP, particularly in the distribution of party resources and positions, including the heads of party departments and membership in the Central Standing Committee and other bodies.

The New Tide faction was seen as the DPP’s most organized faction, but in July 2006 the party passed a resolution dissolving all factions as part of reform efforts.

Nevertheless, the previous factional affiliations of party members are thought to have a lingering role in the party’s internal politics.

The DPP last Wednesday chose DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊毅) to run for Tainan County commissioner.

One of Lee’s rivals for the nomination, former Presidential Office secretary-general Mark Chen (陳唐山), said he had been left out because of party infighting. He announced he would run in the election in defiance of factional forces.

Some party members have speculated that Mark Chen’s bid for the nomination was blocked by former members of the New Tide faction in favor of Lee.
The Tainan County Chief position caused another rift last week when a DPP legislator was accused in the local media of striking a deal for Chen Shui-bian's backing for the position, sparking angry denials and accusations of betrayal.
Local media reported that DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) intended to choose Yeh as the party’s candidate for the year-end Tainan County commissioner race, but changed her mind because Yeh earlier this week visited Chen in the Taipei Detention Center and allegedly reached an agreement with him that in exchange for his support for her campaign, Yeh would support a bid by Chen to replace her in the legislature.

“I was set up by the party and the party sullied my reputation,” Yeh told reporters yesterday.

Yeh said she visited Chen because Tsai and DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅), whom the party announced on Wednesday as its candidate for Tainan County commissioner, asked her to do so.

“They wanted me to ask Chen to persuade former Presidential Office secretary-general Mark Chen (陳唐山) to withdraw from the race [for Tainan County commissioner],” Yeh said, adding that she had not struck any “exchange agreement” with Chen Shui-bian.
The China Post reported that Yeh had said that Chen Shui-bian condemned Democratic Progressive Party secretary-general Wu Nai-jen:
Chen in detention charged Wu with “keeping close financial connections” with Kuo Chuan-ching, former chairman of Rich construction company.

A former DPP lawmaker Yen Wen-chang, who visited President Chen at the Taipei detention center, quoted him as describing the magistracy election in Taiwan as “the epicenter” of a disastrous earthquake for the opposition party.

Kuo was indicted last year for bribery on attempting to land a contract to build the Exhibition Hall in Nankang. He was charged with bribing former first lady Wu Shu-chen to get the name list of the screening panel for the construction of the Nankang hall.

Wu is believed to have orchestrated the nomination of Lee Chun-yi for magistrate of Tainan, though Mark Chen, supported by President Chen, led in grass polls and primaries as the likeliest winner of the election, scheduled for the end of this year.
The silver lining of Chen Shui-bian's detention is that it limits the damage he can do to the DPP. Really, detaining him was about the dumbest thing the KMT could have done.

Let's see... KMT president under 30% approval? Check. Economy in the dumps? Check. Populace disgusted with the performance of the ruling party and perhaps ready to embrace some change? Check.

Good thing the DPP's not squandering this priceless opportunity on factional infighting.... Hopefully the party will get things turned around and on track for the election later this year.

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Anonymous said...

Tsai Ing-wen has been careful to respect the feelings of former supporters of Chen Shui-bian but this has gone way too far.

Mark Chen has been everything under the political sun in Taiwan. A legislator, former county mayor of Tainan (2 terms?), Foreign Minister, what the hell is he doing running for it AGAIN? He's 74!!!! This isn't factionalism. This is god-damned political common sense. How is anyone going to want to be a politician in a minority party where even in the few places it can win, the older generation STILL refuses to step aside?

CSB still may not be found guilty of violating the law, but notice how all those donations were kept under him and his wife's management--they were NOT in DPP coffers.

The DPP wants to move on, and the way CSB has treated the Taiwan Independence movement and the DPP, they have every right to.

Crazy how anyone can say Mark Chen has a legitimate claim to anything...

Anonymous said...

"... DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) intended to choose Yeh ...., but changed her mind ..."

Does not sound very democratic to me. I am a Tainan County residents. Mark Chen is my man. No one is too OLD to lead. --madisonian

Tim Maddog said...

The New Tide faction sucks.

While they pretend to "call for rational debate" within the DPP, they repeatedly run to deep-blue media outlets to do so.

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

Maddog: It's pretty curious to hear an expat toe the fundamentalist line of the greens.

Many of the legislators forced out by the New Tide Faction had very good images and were very electable (compared to shoe throwers, the three clowns, idiot who said he'd jump in the ocean, etc.)

The group that smeared the New Tide Faction is also the group that labeled Hsiao Bik-him "China Ching" and labels Lin Chuo-shui, a long time social scientist and theorist for Taiwanese independence, a traitor.

The New Tide Faction certainly included those who were more open to increased trade with China, but that was some and they have come out to speak against Ma's policies as well. I don't get what the obsession with the New Tide Faction is. It seems like what these people don't like is any DPP politician that appeals broadly to the Taiwanese public, green or blue. What do we call this? Political sadomasochism?

Tim Maddog said...

Anonymous (9:22 AM), what does being "an expat" have anything to do with this?

As I said, the New Tide ran to the deep-blue media with their complaints about the DPP. That's because when they go to the China Times, Sisy Chen (陳文茜), or former New Party legislator Kao Hui-yu's (高惠宇) talk show "Hui-yu Looks at the World" (惠宇看天下), they're talking to "the enemies of their enemies."

So-called "theorist for Taiwanese independence" Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) does that all the time.

I hope other readers here can figure it out, even if you can't.

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

As a Chinese nationalist, I was very worried when Ms. Tsai took over the DPP because her election seemed like the DPP was changing its emphasis from tribalism and TI to democratic, progressive values. I feared this would swing moderate voters over to the DPP.

Looks like my worries were unfounded. I should have known that the TI elders would never let Ms. Tsai get away with reforming and modernizing the DPP. I don't think we'll have much to fear from the DPP for many years, if ever.

Thomas said...

But in this case, I personally think her strategy makes sense. In a place like Tainan, where either Li or Chen would probably win, it makes sense to develop the potential leader.

The DPP party elders, while talented in their own ways, are tainted goods. As for Mark Chen, the man is 73 and has had a very successful political career. He doesn't need this post. And if he really wants to help the DPP, there must be something else he can do that keeps him in the public eye yet allows others to run for elected office. Moreover, by complaining that factions had a role in his not beeing nominated and by declaring he will run regardless, he is, in essence, being just as factional as Tsai. So I don't how see he has any moral high ground.

As for Maddog's comments, I don't see how they invalidate the above argument. The logic is still acceptable regardless of whether or not you like New Tide as a faction.

My one complaint about Tsai is that a great leader would not let this happen. There must be a face-saving way out. If the DPP can't pull it together by the election, I would be very pessimistic about the party's prospects, independent of the opposition of the KMT.

Dixteel said...

I think Thomas got some good point. I think the decision is good but the process is really bad. The amount of friction is too great, for just one county election. It certainly did some damage to the DPP...and IMO, with no reasons.
One thing I just don't quite understand is why the 3 politicians want the Tainan county so badly. 2 of them are in legislature, and 1 should be retiring. And legislature is a good stage for politician IMO, maybe even better than county governor. You can gain a lot of reputation if you perform well in it. For example, Ms. Yeh just won the 1st place in one of the legislator evaluation study. Why so eager to be a local governor when you can also fight for the whole nation in legislature?

Anonymous said...

The DPP doesn't articulate a clear message the way the KMT does.

Ma is pro-economic relations with China, pro-Chinese tourism, pro-stronger cultural ties to China. He thinks "warmer" relations means we don't need to spend on defense as much anymore (where's a political realist when you need one).

Besides being anti-China, what is the DPP for?

Frank Hsieh's campaign, Tsai Ing-wen both have said some very interesting things about their visions for Taiwan. But the DPP's message this past year has been very murky. You can't just say you are anti-ECFA, anti-bad economy, anti-joblessness. Probably the only anti- that really is a message is anti-Chinese food imports.

What is the DPP way of creating jobs? Why can't the DPP come out and say they are pro-green technology, pro-FTAs with Japan, the US, and the EU? Why can't they be pro-transparency with consistent release of information to the web? Pro-small and medium business (with specific policies). Pro-cultural industries? (Frank Hsieh's platform). Pro-carbon tax?

Something completely ignored in all these big spending projects is the complete dominance of the budget by Taipei and north. They just disguise it all in highway subsidies, tourism subsidies. Why can't the DPP come out and say what they think a fair distribution would be?

Actually, at the local level, DPP leaders have interesting policies and good ideas. But where is the national message? Where is the platform?

Anonymous said...

As I said, the New Tide ran to the deep-blue media with their complaints about the DPP.

I personally don't like Sisy Chen, but you know she is really disappointed in Ma and his economic policies and calls Ma stupid.

Sure, I agree that there are very clear pro-Blue print and TV media. But I would argue that Green or Blue isn't the only thing that characterizes them. Readers choose for a variety of reasons besides their political slant.

If you refuse to ever have dialogue through these media, how do you reach all of Taiwan? For ex., do you have a problem with Frank Hsieh and Kuan Bi-Ling keeping blogs on UDN? I mean, how far can you take this purity thing?

But I guess your line is pretty consistent with the attacks on the New Tide. That they aren't ideologically pure enough. That they accept compromise or take more center stands on various issues. I personally think this gets pretty scary if you really take it to its full conclusion... it would destroy the DPP and the pan-Green coalition...

Tim Maddog said...

Anonymous-of-the-straw-men, it is one thing to "have dialogue through these media" (as you put it) and quite another to run to them to complain about the people whose side you claim to be on.

Tim Maddog

kc said...

First of all age should not be a hinderance for running for office! Who cares if Mark Chen is 73/74!!! This comment about being "too old" is so peculiar for a society that is suppose to respect its elders. Let all the candidates express its vision for Tainan and let the best person wins! DPP--stop shooting yourself in the foot--in the head! Taiwan is bigger than any party, any one person! Remember That!!! Although we are disgusted by KMT's handling of justice regarding CSB and most of the people of Taiwan may support his right to rule of law and justice, CSB as a former leader needs to stop politicking and keep his mouth shut at this juncture. His mouth has gotten him in trouble in the past and still is. Just dont get Taiwan's path to dejure nationhood in trouble too!