Contenders call for unity ahead of DPP election


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Acting Chairman Frank Hsieh and two contenders for the party’s chairmanship, on Wednesday called for unity to build a fresh start for the party which lost two recent major elections and will soon see the end of its eight years of consecutive rule.

Hsieh and pro-independence heavyweight Koo Kuan-min and former Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen issued the call at a news conference before the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee (CSC) meeting and days ahead of a party election for the chairman.

The DPP will hold its chairmanship election on Sunday and the new chairman will take over the helm of the party from Hsieh on May 21.

The meeting Wednesday was the last committee meeting chaired by Hsieh before he steps down from the party’s top post on May 20, also the same day when the incoming Kuomintang (KMT) government will assume office.

Hsieh voiced his hope for a new start for the DPP, which suffered a major rout in the Jan. 12 legislative election and has to bow out as the ruling party after a landslide defeat in the March 22 presidential election. Hsieh urged the public to continue supporting the party.

“This is the best way to showcase the party’s unity and boost its members’ morale,” he said.

Hsieh also thanked Koo and Tsai for their participation in the DPP’s chairmanship race at an extremely difficult time for the party.

Koo said that if he is elected DPP chairman, he will do his best to unify the party. Strongly checking and balancing the KMT’s power and taking back the reins of government in 2012, when the next presidential election will be held, will be his top two priorities, he said.

Tsai, who is considered a favorite candidate in the race, called the DPP an important political party despite its current state, and encouraged DPP members to enthusiastically take part in the chairmanship vote to display unity to the outside world.

Since the election defeats, the party has been fraught with bickering as different factions place blame and seek to position themselves as future leaders of the party, which once won the hearts of Taiwanese people for fighting for democracy and an improvement in people’s well-being.