Long Live the DPP Factions!

Long Live the DPP Factions!
Feature photo of DPP legislators. Photo Credit: Lee Kun Han/Ketagalan Media
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By Aaron Wytze Wilson/Ketagalan Media

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has claimed its biggest election victory in the party’s 30 year history, winning both the presidency and a majority of seats in Taiwan’s congress, the Legislative Yuan. As the DPP’s power in government reaches a historical peak, will it lead to a return to raucous factional infighting, or a newfound party unity under Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)?

In part one of this article series, we looked at the role of factions in the DPP’s history, and how party infighting has negatively affected the public’s image towards the party. During the Chen Shui-bian administration, the DPP’s factional disputes often made headline news. Although a resolution was eventually passed during a party congress to disband the party’s factions, there was no immediate halt to faction activities, and the DPP continued to struggle with controlling disputes from spilling out to the press.

During Tsai’s second tenure as party chair, she worked assiduously in stamping out perceptions of a party riven with inner conflict. She appointed DPP members to party and campaign positions across factional lines, and selected her vice-president and legislative party list based on their professional qualities. In addition, Tsai’s calm and collected leadership-style has had the added effect of making over the party’s image. The DPP appeared as “the ruling party-in-waiting” during the election campaign, while the rival Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) busied itself with it’s own factional infighting.

In part two, we will explore the factional connections of the DPP’s local mayors and newly elected legislators. Sweeping election victories for the DPP in 2014 and 2016 has meant an unprecedented control over the levers of power for the party; it has also seen an equivalent rise in factionally-aligned DPP members rising in the party ranks. Although Tsai has introduced a number of non-faction-orientated, professional-types to Taiwan’s congress, the sheer size of the DPP caucus has also meant an inevitable growth in faction strength. More than 30 of the current crop of DPP legislators have factional connections that are well-publicized, and another 20 more who share friendly relations with factions, or party elders.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The full piece is published on Ketagalan Media here: Long Live the DPP Factions!

First Editor: Olivia Yang