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By Vincent Y. Chao / Staff Reporter Font Size:  | Print | Tag: Facebook Twitter Plurk Funp
Taipei Times / 2010 ELECTIONS: ANALYSIS: DPP’s dynamic duo, Tsai and Su, down but not out

Just six months after being dramatically re-elected as chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) emerged from Saturday’s special municipality elections with her prospects of a future presidential bid in doubt.

In one of the biggest tests for her leadership to date, the opposition party suffered a setback over the weekend, failing to secure a single additional mayoralty post despite close pre-election opinion polls and an increase in the party’s overall popular vote.

Perhaps most worrisome for the DPP are the wide margins of defeat that both Tsai and former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) experienced in northern Taiwan — a key area where the DPP had pinned its hopes of a comeback.

Opinion polls, which throughout the election campaign pointed to very close races, offered no hints that Tsai would lose by more than 5 percent in Sinbei City (the soon-to-be-renamed Taipei County) and Su by an astonishing 12 percent in Taipei City. Before the election, both were seen as the party’s best chances against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in 2012.

Despite efforts to downplay concern that they both were eyeing a presidential run, the pair never forcefully dismissed the possibility, which was supported by a vast number of DPP politicians and supporters.

Surveys taken prior to the campaign showed that a run for president by Tsai, paired with Su, would likely garner the most votes compared with other potential candidate pairings within the party.

While Saturday’s elections, fought primarily on local issues, cannot be seen as a concrete indicator of the 2012 presidential poll, experts said the DPP will have to re-evaluate its assumptions about its popularity — especially among independent voters, a voting bloc that largely failed to support either Tsai or Su.

“They were the best the DPP had to offer, but they could not match up to a routine [lineup] of Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] candidates,” said Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), a researcher at Taiwan Thinktank. “They will have a lot of convincing to do if they think they can pull off a win against Ma in 2012.”


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