Taipei, May 29 (CNA) Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen's entry in the year-end five special municipality elections signified a generation change for the party but raised doubts about the DPP's chances in the 2012 presidential election, scholars said.
The London School of Economics and Political Science-educated chairwoman, 54, announced her bid in the Xinbei mayoral election on May 23, the same day she won the party chairmanship election in a landslide, garnering over 90 percent of the votes.
"Tsai entered the (mayoral) election in order to keep the momentum going, " said Lo Chih-cheng, a political scientist at Soochow University, referring to the DPP's victories in a strings of legislative by-elections after 2008. "It also showed that the party wanted to make sure it's able to win at least three out of five mayoral elections." "If that happens, President Ma could be a lame duck sooner than expected, " he said.
The November municipality elections will take place in Taipei City and Xinbei City as well as in Tainan, Taichung and Kaohsiung. The areas represent over 60 percent of the national population of 23 million and account for about 60 percent of the national budget.
Lo, one of the DPP's nine-member nomination panel for the elections, said that both Tsai and the DPP are probably not thinking about the 2012 presidential election at the moment. Because the party only won four of 17 magistrate elections in 2009, it needs a formidable win in the five special municipality elections or its chance of victory in 2012 is very slim, he said.
Ruling Kuomintang (KMT) politicians, however, said that Tsai still eyes the presidential office. KMT Legislator Lin Hung-chih said that both Tsai and Su Tseng-chang -- the DPP's candidate in Taipei City -- still aspire to the presidency and could use a "play to lose" strategy so they can run in 2012.
Former deputy premier Eric Liluan Chu, Tsai's rival in Xinbei City, has also questioned Tsai's willingness to serve the full four-year term in Taiwan's largest electoral district if she wins.
Lai I-chung, a researcher at Taiwan Thinktank, said Tsai's entry signifies the DPP is ready to embrace a new generation of new politicians because Tsai's leadership in the past two years has been relatively successful in winning back voters with a different rhetoric and approach. But he also pointed out some questions raised by Tsai's bid.
"As a party chair and a candidate at the same time, Tsai will inevitably face the issue of the distribution of resources between five electoral districts, " he said, adding that the DPP will also need to look for a coordinator for the crucial elections.
"Win or lose, Tsai will have to resign her post as the DPP chair at the end of the year, which means we will be looking at a new DPP head in 2011, " Lai said.
Lai urged Tsai and Su to serve for the full term if they win and "let the future decide who will be the DPP's candidate in the 2012 presidential election." (By Chris Wang) enditem/bc