Friday, April 29, 2011

Tsai Ing-wen wins DPP primary

Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) won the party’s primary on Wednesday, meaning she will be the facing off against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Jan. 14 next year.

Australian magazine The Diplomat asked me to share my views on support for Tsai — Taiwan’s first female presidential candidate — ahead of what could very well be the most important presidential election in the nation’s history.

6 comments:

Michael Fagan said...

Those remarks were markedly unremarkable, Michael.

I have only one modest curiosity about her: whether she has what it takes to make decisions that would be very unpopular with the "breakfast bunch".

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

Mike: I was initially only asked for a couple of lines, so obviously I could not venture beyond the superficial, and I was lucky he chose to go beyond budget.

What was I supposed to say to make my remarks markedly remarkable — that Tsai can levitate?

Michael Fagan said...

What I was wondering was whether you have an opinion about Tsai yet, or whether you're still making your mind up about her.

It's my fault - I didn't make this clear.

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

Mike (sorry, I was grumpy):

My take on Tsai is that right now she is the best candidate to appeal to the growing number of pan-blue camp voters who feel betrayed by Ma and voted for him in ’08 (call them light-blue, or even undecided). I think Tsai, by stating her willingness to talk to China, managed to distance herself from the image of “irrationalism” that has stuck to the DPP for far too long. What this means, in my humble opinion, is that those unhappy pan-blue and undecided voters might — just might — vote for Tsai, but would have voted KMT had the DPP fielded just about anyone else. I guess who she picks as a running mate will also have an impact on this. Truth is, any DPP candidate hoping to win next year must, to a certain extent, make him/herself palatable to China, and thereby palatable to the KMT. Tsai seems to realize there is no turning back the clock on cross-strait relations, but at the same time she does appear to have solid red lines on sovereignty, meaning that she could actually represent what Ma advertised himself as prior to his election (he failed at doing that, and is now perceived as weak).

Tsai’s embrace of environmental issues and anti-nuclear campaigns is a tactical move.

I agree with you that she will also need to be able to answer — and be asked — much more difficult questions from “foreigners” and foreign media than what she faced at that breakfast, which I didn’t attend.

justrecently said...

The "breakfast" was partisan - the moderator made that clear at several (low) points, such as when he made fun of Ma's English language skills, and suggested that they were so much worse than Tsai's.

One of Tsai's strengths seems to be that she can commit more citizens to her campaign, in a long-term way, than her DPP competitors probably would.

It seems to me that the Taiwanese haven't too much to choose from, next year. It's either the Ma, or the Tsai package - and anyone who considers sovereignty as crucial and distrusts Ma / the KMT on that matter, can only vote for Tsai - and a DPP candidate for the legislature -, even if he or she is by no means "green".

But I'd probably know my own choice by now, if I were Taiwanese.

mike said...

For me, the interesting questions for Tsai will be domestic, and very specific; I don't place any hope in her, but I do wonder whether she might at least try to move on things like devolution and military reform.