Former premier elected as new DPP chairman
Lawrence Chung in Taipei
Taiwan's former premier Su Tseng-chang was elected chairman of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party yesterday as expected, reaping around half of the party members' votes to defeat four other contenders.
His victory has enabled him to take a step closer to the presidential election in 2016, an ambition he has had since first losing the DPP presidential primaries to his biggest rival Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, also a former premier, in 2007, and later to then-DPP chairwoman Dr Tsai Ing-wen last year. Tsai stepped down as the party leader in March to take responsibility for her defeat in the January presidential election to Ma Ying-jeou, of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang.
But for Su to use the DPP's top post to win the party nomination for the 2016 presidential election as Tsai did, the former premier must first seek to unite the party, split as a result of factional struggles aggravated due to the chairmanship election, analysts said. He must also help the party win seven local elections set to be held in two years' time to really win the ticket for the presidential nomination, the analysts said.
Su, 65, won more than 55,800 of the votes, with 68.62 per cent of the eligible 163,000 registered members turning out to vote. Of the four other contenders, former Tainan magistrate Su Huan-chih, 56, finished second with 23,281 votes, followed by former vice-premier Wu Rong-I, 73, with 16,315, former DPP legislator Chai Trong-rong, 77, with 12,497 votes and former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang, 71, with 2,763. The party also elected the heads of its 22 local chapters as well as local and national party delegates.
'I will do all I can to unite the party after the election as this is something all members want me to do,' said Su in declaring victory last night. Su said the 2014 elections of local mayors, councillors, township and neighbourhoods chiefs were highly important as it would decide whether the DPP would be able to regain power lost to the KMT since the pro-independence party's defeat in the 2008 presidential election.
Taiwanese media and analysts said the first thing Su must do was to ease the factional struggles within the party so that he could lead it to fight wholeheartedly in the 2014 race.
Election results yesterday also showed two of Tsai's favoured candidates beating Su's in Taipei city and New Taipei City local chapter elections.