Premier Su agrees to let survey choose 2008 presidential ticket

The China Post staff

Premier Su Tseng-chang agreed yesterday to let polls choose a Democratic Progressive Party ticket for the presidential election next year. Su, who declared candidacy for 2008 Sunday, did not respond Monday, when President Chen Shui-bian officially made known he wanted the poll-chosen ticket, albeit his rival Frank Hsieh immediately agreed. Aside from the two, Yu Shyi-kun, chairman of the ruling party, is standing for president. Enjoying a lead over every DPP hopeful in all past polls, Su told the press before delivering his administrative report at the Legislative Yuan that he accepted “whatever effort” President Chen is making to achieve a unity of purpose within the party to win the 2008 race. According to the Chen plan, the top two favorites in the polls to be sponsored by the party will run for president and vice president. The top favorite will be the standard bearer and the runner-up his running mate. Yu Shyi-kun, however, insists that the DPP rules for the nomination of presidential candidates be followed. The rules require party primaries, which the Chen plan forgoes. “I support any plan (for the selection of presidential candidates), so long as it can help achieve the party solidarity,” Premier Su said. On the floor of the legislature, Su said he would not resign as premier, if he were to run for president.

“There are precedents,” Su told Kuomintang lawmakers. Lien Chan and Vincent Siew did not quit as premier to run for vice president. An incumbent premier certainly has an edge in the presidential election over his rivals, the likeliest one being Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of the Kuomintang. Frank Hsieh, a former premier who is likely to beat Su if only DPP members are polled, said it is unfair to regard his acceptance of the Chen plan as his acquiescence to become a running mate. “All I said,” Hsieh pointed out, “is that I accepted the poll-chosen ticket. If I were the runner-up in the polls, I would be the running mate. But I did not say I would be the running mate regardless of the outcome of the polls.” What Hsieh wants is straw polls open to the public at large. A fourth hopeful, Vice President Annette Lu, has yet to declare her candidacy, though she has never hidden her aspiration for the nation’s highest public office. She has to announce her decision to seek the DPP nomination before March 5, the day the ruling party will start accepting registration of candidates. The chances are that Lu would do so on March 3 although she denied Sunday. On coming Saturday, the ruling party will hold a Lantern Festival party in Taoyuan, where at least 2,000 supporters would attend. President Chen is scheduled to appear at the party. If attendees showed Lu strong enough support for her presidential bid at the party on the eve of the Lantern Festival, the vice president would declare candidacy then and there, a close friend said. “Of course,” the friend said, “the vice president accepts the Chen plan.” Lu has trailed far behind any of the three contenders in the past polls, exclusive to DPP members or open to the general public.