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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006, 22:20 GMT
Taiwan's top party picks new boss
Yu Shyi-kun
Mr Yu is under pressure to win back support for the DPP
Taiwan's governing party has elected a new chairman it hopes can reverse recent political fortunes.

Former Taiwanese premier Yu Shyi-kun beat two rivals to become the head of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Mr Yu, 57, will be expected to undertake reforms to win back popular support ahead of presidential elections in 2008, party colleagues said.

President Chen Shui-bian's DPP has had a tough few months, losing an important mid-term election to the opposition.

Party fear

The DPP has also been accused of corruption, and has been ignored by the Chinese leadership, which has instead invited senior figures from the more pro-China opposition to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

So the president is seen as being in danger of becoming a lame duck, says the BBC's Taiwan correspondent Chris Hogg.

Many in the party fear they are likely to lose control of the presidential palace in two years' time, when Mr Chen's second term expires, he says.

Our correspondent says if either of the other two candidates - the pro-independence Chai Trong-rong, and a former legislator, Wong Chin-chu - had won the DPP ballot, it would have weakened Mr Chen still further.

Tougher stance

Mr Yu won 54% of the vote, but less than 20% of the party's 230,000 eligible voters cast their ballots.

"The new chairman must restore the DPP's reputation as a local, clean and reform-minded party and again win back Taiwan people's trust," said DPP vice-president Annette Lu.

The president, meanwhile, has toughened his stance against China in recent weeks.

Frustrated with the impasse in his relations with Beijing, the president has signalled his willingness to talk tough again, promoting Taiwan's sovereignty.

That is something likely to anger China, and please his supporters, our correspondent says.

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