Tsai Ing-wen's Ordeal Has Just Begun
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 12, 2011
A dispute has arisen within the DPP presidential primary, between the "all peoples faction" and the "party members faction." On the surface, this represents a surprise attack by "Old Fogie fundamentalists" against the party leadership, which is consolidating its hold on the party. The power struggle has impacted the DPP's policy toward Mainland China. Yesterday the "all peoples faction" enjoyed a breakthrough in the Central Executive Committee. But Deep Green elements have also made their move. They have clearly indicated they will not allow Tsai Ing-wen to adopt a more centrist cross-Strait policy.
The DPP is unlike the KMT. The DPP rose through hard struggle. Every DPP elected official is adept with both the pen and the sword. Annette Lu is highly eloquent. But even the office manager for Taiwan independence elder Koo Kuan-min, blasted Tsai Ing-wen as "very un-DPP like," "elitist," and "dictatorial." This is the way it has been ever since the Democratic Progressive Party was founded. But Tsai Ing-wen, who has been praised both inside and outside the DPP, may not be accustomed to such merciless public attacks. .
Two years ago, during the party chairman election, Koo Kuan-min and Tsai Ing-wen fought each other tooth and nail. This was followed by rule changes within the DPP. Tsai Ing-wen had never encountered so much resistance. Last year, by adopting Tsai Ing-wen's campaign strategy during the five cities elections, the DPP scored victories in Taipei City, Xinbei City, and Taichung City. Winning was everything. Theoretically the party leadership would hold small group discussions, nominate candidates, and begin recruitment.
Following the five cities elections, Tsai Ing-wen found herself riding high. Now however she faces an uphill battle for the presidential nomination. The media has mocked Annette Lu and Trong Chai as "Old Fogey fundamentalists." Neither compares with Tsai Ing-wen in intraparty authority or support. Next to Tsai Ing-wen, they lag far behind. Therefore, regardless of whether party members vote in the party primaries, Tsai Ing-wen is likely to lead by a wide margin. Nevertheless the "Old Fogey fundamentalists" have made their move. This means infighting will soon begin.
Annette Lu's call for party members to vote in the party primaries was defeated in the Central Executive Committee. But she is certain to shift the battleground to the January 22 meeting of the National Party Congress. By then, public polls will be conducted. Twenty-one sessions will be held, during which policy positions will be set forth. They will include proposals to postpone the presidential primaries until July. All these matters will be debated. The current party leadership wants to confirm the party's nominee by March. But the DPP includes presidential hopefuls such as Su Tseng-chang, Annette Lu, Trong Chai, and Koo Kwan-min, all of whom hope to postpone the presidential primaries until July. They want to drag the process out, in the hope that Tsai Ing-wen's lead can be diminished. If the DPP leadership digs in its heels, the party may find itself divided even before the election.
Suppose the nomination process is postponed, from March to July. Can the DPP trade time for space? Can the DPP reach an accord? Or will it merely prolong the struggle within the party? The presidential election may involve problems other than election procedure. The DPP has been in the opposition for four years, It must offer a new cross-Strait policy platform. But the "Old Fogey fundamentalists" have joined forces with Taiwan independence hardliners. The power struggle over the DPP primary process, may turn into a fierce battle over ideology.
If Tsai Ing-wen is determined to run, her every word and deed will be subject to Deep Green scrutiny. The "very un-DPP like" charge leveled against her suggests that the Deep Greens have already begun to question Tsai Ing-wen's "background." Given this atmosphere, will Tsai Ing-wen be able to set forth a pragmatic cross-Strait policy? She certainly will be put to the test.
In fact, the atmosphere of moderation the DPP generated during the five cities elections has already evaporated. Frank Hsieh has proposed "One Constitution, Different Interpretations." He wants specifically to eliminate the "One China Constitution" he once advocated. Taiwan independence elements and the party elite are joining forces. They are reluctant even to recognize the ROC Constitution. Under the circumstances, how can the DPP possibly offer a workable framework for cross-Strait exchanges during the presidential election?
This reminds one of the U.S. presidential elections. During the primaries, the DPP must appease Deep Green elements. But during the presidential election, it must move toward the center. The DPP leadership is consulting opinion polls, in the hope of avoiding this dilemma. Tsai Ing-wen faces a dilemma. Taiwan independence elements are menacing her. Polls may serve as a shield. But every DPP candidate must be approved by the Deep Greens, or solemnly affirm his or her commitment to Taiwan independence. After imposing such political purity tests, how much latitude does the DPP have to move toward the center? But if it fails to move toward the center, how can the DPP possibly return to power in 2012?
How will the DPP reach an accord on the party's nomination process? How will it arrive at a viable cross-Strait policy in the face of such a dilemma? Can Tsai Ing-wen reassure the public? These questions have no easy answers, One might say that Chairman Tsai's ordeal has just begun!