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Taiwan's former opposition chief eyeing 2016 presidential elections

The former chief of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party, who is expected to regain her position as chairperson in the upcoming vote on Sunday, is aiming to take another shot at the presidency in 2016.

TAIPEI: Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is set to vote for a new chairperson on Sunday.

Former DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, who resigned as the DPP chair after being defeated in the presidency elections in 2012, is making a comeback by contesting for the party's top post again.

The 57-year-old is expected to win comfortably after two main rivals, incumbent chairman Su Tseng-chang and DPP heavyweight Frank Hsieh dropped out of the race.

The DPP wants Ms Tsai to unite the party to do battle for the upcoming municipal elections.

"Under Ms Tsai, we hope the DPP can win the 2014 elections in the next few months,” said Liu Shih-chung, DPP international affairs director.

“Once we have the majority seats in local governments, we will have a better chance of winning the presidency and majority seats in parliament in 2016."

Analysts say Ms Tsai’s real ambition lies at taking another shot at the presidency in 2016.

"For Tsai Ing-wen to come back as DPP chair is a clear indication that she is an important presidential candidate for the party in 2016,” said Chang Ya-chung, a political science professor at the National Taiwan University.

“But before she wins her candidacy for 2016, she is likely to be very careful and conservative in dealing with cross-strait issues."

Cross-strait issues have always been the Achilles' heel for the pro-independence DPP.

Its lack of a China policy is believed to have cost Ms Tsai's victory in 2012; therefore the DPP will have to make some changes in order to win the presidency in 2016.

"More and more Taiwanese, with no political affiliation with the KMT or the DPP, have come forward to express their worries and doubts about President Ma Ying-jeou's cross-strait polices,” said Mr Liu.

“The DPP will take their opinions into consideration while formulating our cross-strait policies. We'll do so with more caution, amplitude and patience."

Analysts say the DPP is unlikely to forgo its pro-independence platform completely, especially when its power base still relies heavily on pro-independence hardliners.

But if the DPP wants to get back into power, they say the key is to come up with a viable China policy that's acceptable to Beijing. 

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