A Tsai/Su Ticket? Or Su/Tsai Ticket?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 21, 2010
Tsai Ing-wen will represent the DPP in the 2012 presidential election. That is becoming clearer day by day. Su Tseng-chang's desire to "continue transcending" his current status is all too clear. As we examine at the overall situation, a Su/Tsai ticket is unlikely.
Why? First, a Su/Tsai ticket is impossible. Tsai Ing-wen would never agree to such a ticket. Secondly, a Tsai/Su ticket would probably embarrass Su. Su has already been Frank Hsieh's running mate. Also, Tsai would never agree to such a ticket.
Su and Tsai served in the Executive Yuan as Premier and Vice Premier, Tsai finds Su's political style distasteful. Will Tsai toss her hat in the ring? If she does, she will seek the presidency. She will hardly settle for being Su's vice presidential running mate. Besides, Tsai Ing-wen has been trumpeting her "Platform for the Coming Decade." She has obviously been setting her self up as presidential candidate in 2012. Today the political climate is right, She will hardly allow Su to usurp her "Platform for the Coming Decade." Su would not look the part in any event.
Suppose Tsai Ing-wen runs in 2012. Ma Ying-jeou will be seeking a second term. The ECFA debate in April already covered most of the major issues likely to come up in the 2012 presidential election. It has also covered the qualifications of the candidates. Ma is apparently still the favorite. The Democratic Progressive Party nomination process will begin in May next year, less than six months from now. Tsai Ing-wen may not have time to resolve the differences between rival factions within the party. Will Su Tseng-chang acknowledge the difficulties he faces in seeking the party nomination, and simply step aside? Will the "Platform for the Coming Decade" be an asset or a deficit? Haste could well make waste. But Tsai Ing-wen's candidacy is a foregone conclusion. Chen Shui-bian, Koo Kuan-min, and others have already endorsed her candidacy, and are pessimistic about Su Tseng-chang's chances. The situation is urgent. Tsai will be forced to yield to the prevailing winds, just as she was forced to run for Xinbei City mayor. If Tsai is elected president in 2012, certain consequences will ensue. But what if her election bid is unsuccessful? What will the consequences for the DPP be then?
Suppose Tsai Ing-wen runs for president. That will be tantamount to a proclamation that the time for Su Tseng-chang and other Kaohsiung Incident figures has passed. But if Tsai Ing-wen runs and loses, advocates of reform may become targets inside the party. The chances of Tsai Ing-wen becoming the Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate in 2016 will be greatly reduced. By the same token, the chances that the DPP might return to power in 2016 will also evaporate. Therefore Tsai Ing-wen has two choices. One. She can choose to remain out of the 2012 presidential race. Two. She can make a risky move by acquiescing to a Su/Tsai ticket. If the ticket loses, she will have all the more justification to make a run for the presidency in 2016. These choices are attractive for Tsai Ing-wen, because they enable her to avoid butting heads with Ma Ying-jeou in 2012. They allow her time to transform the DPP. But as mentioned above, the choice is no longer up to Tsai Ing-wen. She will almost certainly declare her candidacy for the 2012 presidential race. She cannot wait until 2012.
Will Tsai Ing-wen's candidacy be a plus or a minus? That depends on whether she can facilitate the transformation of the DPP. One. Beijing has reiterated its cross-Strait bottom line, namely, "Oppose Taiwan independence, uphold the 1992 Consensus." Two. Tsai Ing-wen advocated the two states theory, opposed the 1992 Consensus, and opposed ECFA. Three. The "Platform for the Coming Decade" is not a DPP party platform. It is not even a DPP party resolution. It is merely Tsai Ing-wen's personal political platform. Can it transcend, replace, or abrogate the Taiwan independence party platform, the Resolution on Taiwan's future, and the Resolution for a Normal Nation? Four. Chen Shui-bian has already made "one nation on each side" synonymous with Taiwan independence. The "one nation on each side connection" has become the first unabashedly Taiwan independence faction within the DPP. Five. On the one hand Tsai accuses Ma Ying-jeou of "pandering to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan." On the other hand, she assures voters that "upon assuming power, she would perpetuate the previous administration's cross-Strait policies," How can she possibly reconcile these contradictions? Six. During the five cities elections, the DPP trumpeted its "ability to govern." Perhaps it was referring to local governance. But what are we to make of the DPP's alleged "ability to govern" at the central government level, between 2000 and 2008? These are just a few examples of the problems the DPP faces as it undergoes tranformation. They are hardly exhaustive. What sort of campaign does Tsai Ing-wen intend to run in 2012? Does she really intend to run merely by donning jeans and a pink T-shirt? Suppose she fails to get to the root of these problems? Can she really be elected? That will be a problem. Suppose she is elected and assumes power? Tragedy will surely ensue. That will be a far more serious problem.
The Democratic Progressive Party will hold its presidential primaries in May of next year. Before then, Tsai Ing-wen must resolve two major crises. One. The crisis that will ensue if the DPP loses in 2012. Two. The even greater crisis that will ensue if the DPP wins in 2012. The key is whether Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP can take its "China policy" and change it back into what it is supposed to be, "cross-Strait policy." The DPP's so-called "China policy" implies "one nation on each side." It casts "China" as the enemy and as "the other." By contrast, "cross-Strait policy" implies "one China, different interpetations." It stresses a symbiotic win-win situation.
Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP opposed direct flights, opposed allowing Mainland tourists onto Taiwan, opposed the Chiang/Chen summits, and opposed ECFA. They opposed every measure, every step along the way. Today we have direct flights across the Taiwan Strait, Mainland tourists visiting Taiwan, summits between Chiang and Chen, and ECFA. Every one of these measures has been successfully implemented. Each has come to pass, naturally, in swift succession. In short, can Tsai Ing-wen really win the presidency merely by wearing a pink T-shirt, even as she demands that Taiwan turn the clock back to the Cold War?