TAIWANESE PRESIDENT MA YING-JEOU PICKS 2012 RUNNING MATE
June 10, 2011
With the Taiwanese presidential elections set for January 14, 2012, Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou announced on June 19th his choice for vice-presidential running mate, current Premier Wu Den-yih. Vice President of Ma’s current administration, Vincent Siew, announced last month he won’t seek nomination for re-election. The naming of Wu as Ma’s poll partner for 2012 is seen as a bet to garner support in the southern region of Taiwan, an area which generally favors the main opposition group, the Democratic Progress Party (DPP).
Premier Wu was formerly mayor of Kaohsiung City and has a large support base in the southern region of Taiwan. Wu recently ranked higher in approval ratings than President Ma as the president has recently faced declining support over China-friendly policies. Having Wu on the KMT ticket could help Ma’s image after criticism that he has neglected pressing local issues and placed too much focus on building ties with mainland China.
Since Ma took office in May 2008, he has worked to strengthen ties with the mainland through various trade deals and has generally contributed to a positive period in cross-Strait relations. His successful negotiations with mainland China improved economic growth projections for 2010 and resulted in estimated GDP growth of almost 11 percent. However, some say Ma’s programs have benefited the rich at the expense of the poor and that his mainland initiatives will injure Taiwan’s economy in the future.
In January, Ma will face DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, who was formerly Vice-Premier and Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman during Chen Shui-bian’s administration (2000-2008). Tsai has yet to announce her vice presidential pick. The DPP Chairwoman holds a significant voter base in the south and amongst those who view closer economic ties with the mainland as infringing upon Taiwan’s sovereignty. Many are concerned that a DPP victory in January would damage the achievements made in cross-Strait relations over the past 3 years .
For further coverage on the 2012 Taiwanese election cycle, please see the following news sources and commentary:
China Daily – “Taiwan Leader Picks Poll Partner”
Focus Taiwan – “Ma Widens Lead in Presidential Race”
Brookings Institution – “Election Season Returns to Taiwan: Prospects for Taiwan’s National Elections in 2012”
China Leadership Monitor – “Cross-Strait Relations: Setting the Stage for 2012”