This means that two of the most powerful figures in the DPP are running for positions in the north. Both of them are said to harbor Presidential ambitions. If both of them win, which is a possibility, then who will the DPP run for President?
At her first news conference after announcing her bid, Tsai, 54, said the result of the Sunday election was a sign that the party stood behind her.
The fact that “I found that there was sufficient unity inside the party and that it was stable gave me even more confidence to move forward,” she said.
The party announced on Sunday evening that Tsai had won re-election with 90 percent, while her only opponent, former Taipei County Magistrate Yu Ching, received 9 percent.
About an hour after the election results came out, Tsai issued a news release to announce she had decided to run for mayor of Xinbei, the administratively upgraded successor to Taipei County.
At her Monday news conference, she said the region was a microcosm of all of Taiwan’s society and the right place to begin implementing the ten-year policy master plan the DPP was working on.
Tsai also responded to accusations that she was only using the Xinbei election as a springboard for the 2012 presidential election.
“If we are elected, we will bear responsibility all the way,” she said.
Interesting, I had heard scuttlebutt from those in the know that Frank Hsieh was under consideration for Taichung. They decided instead....
If the election were held tomorrow, the KMT's Jason Hu would win big in Taichung, the DPP's Chen Chu in Kaohsiung, and William Lai is probable for Tainan. Tsai would probably get beaten in Taipei County, but I suspect Su would actually defeat Mayor Hau in Taipei City. But the election is months away....
Apart from Tsai for Xinbei, the other major move was the nomination of DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan, 54, to run for Taichung Mayor against incumbent Jason Hu, 62.
The party also confirmed that ex-Premier Su Tseng-chang, 63, would run for Taipei City Mayor against incumbent Hau Lung-bin, 58. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, 60, and lawmaker William Lai, 51, already won poll primaries for the Kaohsiung and Tainan areas respectively.
The FT "blog" -- I hate it when the media attempts to annex the authenticity of real blogs by renaming their columns "blogs" -- writes:
I think this analysis is wrong. She can't contend for 2012 if she wins in Xinbei, because DPP rules presently prevent candidates from stepping down from briefly occupied positions to run for new ones, and because the DPP has pledged that if elected, the mayors of Taipei and Xinbei will serve out their terms. Of course, that could change....
Tsai, a graduate of National Taiwan University who got her masters in law from Cornell and a doctorate from the London School of Economics, has been the opposition Democratic Progressive Party’s answer to president Ma. The two share many similar characteristics - both are internationally educated, have a clean, slightly academic image, and are politically more centrist than segments of their supporters would like.
Unlike Ma, however, Tsai has a glaring gap in her otherwise impressive CV: she has never run in a public election. Her political career began when the DPP was in power and she rose quickly to ministerial rank. Winning the year-end vote, therefore, would significantly boost her credibility as a serious contender for the presidency in 2012. Tsai said in an open letter to her party that she looks forward to the challenge. “Although this is my first time running, it also means that I don’t bring any baggage with me into the election. I will realise my dreams through this election.”
Rather, I suspect the strategy here is for Su and/or Tsai to lose but do well, showing that they are serious contenders and keeping them in the public eye, and for Tsai to get some experience in the rough and tumble of electoral politics. The prospect of them performing well but losing is good -- the DPP county chiefs of Taipei County (including Su himself) did capable work, and the last KMT chief of Taipei County left a big stink behind. In Taipei, KMT Mayor Hau does not inspire and Su has a good chance of performing well. As I pointed out before:
Another way to look at is look at the DPP vote peak in 1998 -- 688K, and the KMT vote last time around, 692K. That is a difference of just 4,000 votes. Hau Lung-bin, the current mayor and probable candidate, lacks the popularity Ma enjoyed, and there is no reason at present to think we will see a significant gain in KMT voters for this election. If Su reaches the DPP high, and the KMT performance is lackluster, just a couple of thousand voters have to switch to make Su the mayor. And the DPP has been doing well lately.....It is also wrong to label Ma a "centrist". He's an ardent Nationalist Chinese/Chinese Nationalist ideologue who regularly deploys the KMT colonial/ideological vocabulary and its faux Confucianism and Chineseness in ways that suggests he has deeply internalized that mentality, groomed from birth for the position he now holds, with initial strong support from the Deep Blue rank and file (though not party elites) in the first Chairmanship election. The disenchantment that certain KMTers on the far right and center-right feel about Ma does not mean he is a "centrist". It just means they are disappointed.
By putting powerful candidates in the north, the DPP forces the KMT to commit meaningful resources to the Taipei area elections, reducing its ability to impact Kaohsiung and Tainan.
What are the effects of Tsai's decision? FT says:
Should she lose the year-end elections as well, it would all but seal the fate of the 2012 presidential elections and guarantee another four years of rule by Ma’s Kuomintang party. However, a Tsai victory would put pressure on the government and perhaps force Ma to slow further cross-Strait liberalisation before the 2012 elections to avoid any backlash.Apple Daily took a totally different position:
Tsai's decision to run for mayor of Xinbei City is a clever political strategy because if she wins it will reinforce her leadership of the party, and if she loses it will be no big deal because it is well known that the city is a traditional stronghold of the ruling Kuomintang.I tend to agree with Apple Daily. How Tsai's losing in the City Formerly Known as Taipei County "seals the fate" of those elections is unclear to me (I still see Ma winning in 2012). Similarly, how a Tsai victory there would force Ma to slow down the cross-Strait sellout is also unclear -- it seems more logical to argue that if the DPP sweeps the north, Ma would accelerate the program, since the danger of a DPP win in 2012 might rise.
Can anything stop ECFA? The DPP has won six of the last seven elections, and the pace of ECFA "liberalization" has not slowed one iota. Further, poll after poll has shown that Ma has poor satisfaction ratings and that a majority of the public does not support ECFA (either they oppose or don't know). Has ECFA slowed at all because of that? A centrist who was interested in his party's fate would probably slow the cross-Strait sellout. But an ideologue would probably stay the course irrespective of what it meant for his people at the local level.
Time will tell....
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