ANALYSIS: By-election victories cement Tsai Ing-wen’s status*





LEADERSHIP ABILITY: Pundits credit the DPP chief for Saturday’s results but say the KMT administration’s poor policymaking and public relations played a role

By Jenny W. hsu
Monday, Jan 11, 2010, Page 3


The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) victories in Saturday’s legislative by-elections cemented DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) leadership status but observers warned the party must tread carefully to maintain the momentum it needs for the five year-end special municipality elections.

The DPP supporters cheered on Saturday for the three candidates who did bagged the seats in Taoyuan County Second District, Taichung County and Taitung County, especially Lai Kun-cheng (賴坤成), who made history by becoming the first DPP legislator ever elected in the traditional pan-blue stronghold in Taitung.

National Chung Cheng University professor Hsieh Min-chieh (
謝敏捷) said the results were a cry from the public for a more even-handed legislature while the government struggles to convince people of its leadership ability.

Hsieh said both the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) appointed new secretary-generals to spearhead the election fight but while DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chuan (
蘇嘉全) fulfilled his expectations, the KMT’s King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) failed to fulfill his pledge to turn the party into an “election machine.”

“The KMT might have made some small adjustments, but minor tactics are of little use because the overall situation was still poor,” Hsieh said.

However, he said the DPP should not be too comfortable because it remains a minority in the legislature.

Shih Cheng-feng (
施正峰), of the College of Indigenous Studies at National Dong Hwa University, said Saturday’s elections had been called because the former KMT winners had been found guilty of vote-buying, but the Feb. 27 by-elections were necessitated by KMT lawmakers who had won elections as county commissioners in last month’s local elections.

Despite the triple triumph and the possibility of doing well in next month’s by-elections, Shih said the odds were long against the DPP topping the year-end special municipality elections because it has difficulties courting voters in the north and center of the country.

Mingchuan University professor Chen Chao-chien (
陳朝建) said Saturday’s results were a warning flag to the KMT that the public was dissatisfied with the administration and was ready to boot them out if necessary.

Recent issues such as the government’s inability to curb the controversy over the safety of the locally produced A(H1N1) vaccine, the row lawmakers and with Washington over US beef imports and its murky explanation of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with Beijing — all contribute to widespread doubt about President Ma Ying-jeou’s (
馬英九) capabilities, he said.

Unless the Ma administration can come up with major policies to win back voters, Ma will go on a quick downward spiral, Chen said.

The KMT should be “psychologically prepared” to lose big in the Feb. 27 elections because if the momentum continues to favor the DPP, the pan-green camp could a end up snatching the year-end elections, which are seen as a crucial indicator of the 2012 presidential race, he said.

The DPP cannot be content with its boosted presence in the legislature because dramatic moves to the right could end up causing a pendulum effect that would benefit the pan-camp in the later races.

The DPP’s wins on Saturday mean it has met the threshold to launch a motion to recall the president, request the president to report to the legislature and amend the Constitution.

The DPP must use its new power carefully, Chen said, because launching motions on highly controversial issues such as a presidential impeachment could stir up more public conflict.

Shih and Chen agreed that the biggest winner on Saturday was Tsai, who can finally stand comfortably at the helm of the party.

Saturday’s triple victory plus the party’s stellar performance in last month’s three-in-one elections has washed away any doubts about her leadership and vision, they said, adding that the DPP’s chances in the year-end special municipality elections also appear brighter, especially if Tsai decides to run.



*Taipei Times》2010/1/11