Eric Chu's Decision: Constraints from Comrades more Binding than from Opponents
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 24, 2014
Summary: Eric Chu has belatedly announced his candidacy, He has left the
impression that he "thinks too much" and "took too long." But the
difficulty he encountered in deciding was not the result of timidity. It
was the result of too many factors binding him from within the party.
His dilemma reflects the differences between the blue and green
political parties. For example, Tsai Ing-wen bided her time for over two
years before declaring her candidacy for 2016. Yet no one in the DPP
has any intention of challenging her. By contrast, members of the KMT
have bound their most promising candidate hand and foot. Eric Chu's
decision may be belated. But he most assuredly did not arrive at it
Full Text Below:
Eric Chu has wavered for some time between seeking the ROC presidency in 2016 and seeking reelection as New Taipei mayor. He has finally announced his decision. He will remain in New Taipei and run for reelection. He announced his decision yesterday in a low-keyed manner, on facebook. He deliberately avoid election rallies. This shows how difficult his decision was. Under current circumstances, his primary responsibility is to stabilize the situation in the seven in one elections. As the ruling party's political star, he must put his ambitions for 2016 in second place.
The reaction to yesterday's announcement was varied, and illustrated how difficult the decision must have been. DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien said that seeking reelection for New Taipei mayor was a "shrewd calculation" on Chu's part. Lin mocked Chu's drawn out decision process as "a flop that continues to play." TSU Secretary-General Lin Chi-chia, who is seeking to integrate the pan green opposition, said that Chu's decision showed his "lack of confidence." Even more interesting was the reaction from the Kuomintang. KMT spokesperson Chen Yi-hsing said the KMT Central Committee will "fully support his campaign." This statement had a very different impact.
The pan green opposition's mockery cannot hide its fear of Eric Chu. The ruling party's statement also leaves one speechless. Chu is the KMT's best candidate for 2016. Yet he took so long deciding whether to seek reelection as New Taipei mayor, observers nearly lost all patience. The media examined all possible scenarios. The reason Chu took so long to decide was obvious. Too many factors remained outside his control. In the end, Chu announced that he would seek re-election. He even added that "If re-elected, I will serve out the entire four years of my term." As we can see, he was forced to consider complex factors inside and outside the party.
Eric Chu has decided not to go straight for the presidency in 2016, but to seek reelection in New Taipei. The key reason was the constraints placed upon him by his own party. These exceeded any challenges posed by forces from the outside. First, there was the year end seven in one elections. The ruling party could lose power in numerous counties and cities all across Taiwan. The situation in central Taiwan is precarious. Recent scandals in Taoyuan and Keelung threaten the party's prospects in northern Taiwan. Under the circumstances, New Taipei must not fall. Eric Chu's re-election would help the blue camp stabilize the situaiton in northern Taiwan. It would also test his skill in transregional campaigning.
Second, Lien Sheng-wen looked like a shoo-in for Taipei mayor. But the successful integration of the opposition geen camp, and Shen Fu-hsiung entering the fray, have left the election up for grabs. Lien Sheng-wen's advantage has faded. Yesterday, Eric Chu announced that he and Lien Sheng-wen will form a "Sheng Li Alliance." He is clearly attempting to give Lien a boost. He is adopting a "Twin Taipei Cities" strategy to help the blue camp rally support in the nation's capital.
Third, there is the internal situation in New Taipei City. Blue camp city councilors are highly dependent on a coattails effect. If Eric Chu passes the torch to Hou Yu-yi, that may not work. After all, a veteran leading the way is more certain. The blue camp is worried that if Chu withdraws from the New Taipei mayoral race, the green camp might offer up former County Chief Su Tseng-chang as their candidate. That might lead to an upset in once solid New Taipei. That eventually had to be forestalled.
Consider Eric Chu's perspective. He could go straight to a bid for the presidency in 2016 if he wanted to. Given his high standing in the polls and Tsai Ing-wen as his opponent, he stands a good chance of winning. But suppose he throws his hat the New Taipei mayoral election? If re-elected he would have to declare his candidacy for the presidential race within six months. If he did that, New Taipei voters might be less than forgiving. That is why he specifically stated yesterday, "I would serve out my full term." The purpose of that was to allay voter concerns. Will this force him to miss out on the 2016 election? That is hard to say. Is Eric Chu really the kind of person the DPP painted him? Is he really someone "adept at political calculation?" Would such a person have mired himself in such a situation, where he can neither advance nor retreat?
Nor can one ignore the attitude of the ruling party leadership and President Ma's succession plans for 2016. Relations between Ma and Chu are rumored to be "complicated." President Ma prefers another candidate. Ma Ying-jeou forced Eric Chu to run in New Taipei. The two have ostensibly resolved their differences. But communications remain iffy. In any case, one can be sure that at this moment President Ma does want Chu to help him stabilize the political situation. Chu could boldly step outside the lines laid out for him. He could achieve glowing results. But when 2016 rolls around, he might not become President Ma's successor.
Eric Chu has belatedly announced his candidacy, He has left the impression that he "thinks too much" and "took too long." But the difficulty he encountered in deciding was not the result of timidity. It was the result of too many factors binding him from within the party. His dilemma reflects the differences between the blue and green political parties. For example, Tsai Ing-wen bided her time for over two years before declaring her candidacy for 2016. Yet no one in the DPP has any intention of challenging her. By contrast, members of the KMT have bound their most promising candidate hand and foot. Eric Chu's decision may be belated. But he most assuredly did not arrive at it easily.
2014.06.25 01:35 am