Thu, May 25, 2000 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: DPP needs stability from within

Since Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) election victory, the DPP has become the ruling party. But the party seems to be having difficulties adapting to its new role.

Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), the party's chairman, now wants to step down from a post that has become more powerful than ever. This would be quite a strange episode in any democracy.

As political power has changed hands, both the KMT and the DPP must learn to play different roles. They are like opera singers on stage who sing out of key after they finding themselves shifting roles. In fact, this situation has been inevitable.

Many people from the DPP have taken up positions in the new government. That means even more disgruntled people have been left behind. More importantly, they suddenly seem to have lost goals to fight for -- and a sense of direction. In the past, they were the critics and monitors. Now they must play the roles of coordinators and administrators. What they needed in the past was courage and a sense of justice. Now they need ability and wisdom. These are two very different challenges.

Since Chen's election victory, the DPP has seen its membership soar dramatically. Local factions with relatively weak political connections, as well as underworld elements, have been flocking to the DPP's fold en masse. If not properly controlled, the party may quickly suffer serious pollution, which will place the entire party on a par with the KMT.

Apart from the party's development, the DPP headquarters will also have to worry about its complex relations with the Presidential Office, the Legislative Yuan and the Cabinet. The DPP is a minority party at the legislature and suffers from a complex factionalism to boot. The new government is indeed in a difficult situation; coordination and support from the party chairman is becoming all the more important.

Chen has been lucky to have Lin in the party chairman's post during this critical period. Lin's moral stature and character make him immune to almost any challenge within the DPP -- he is perhaps the only person who has the prowess to keep things in order. Chen will naturally want him to stay, indispensable as he is as a leader during the transition of power.

The DPP owes much of its success to the older generation of leaders that emerged from the Kao-hsiung Incident (美麗島事件). These are people with ideals, moral awareness and a strong sense of history. All DPP chairpersons so far have been from the same generation, of which Lin is perhaps the most representative leader. We cannot help but wonder whether the DPP will lose its ideals after Lin's departure.

Despite their diverse political goals, the Kaohsiung Incident generation united in an alliance against the KMT. In contrast, today's DPP is a marriage of different political interests and factions through power-sharing. The Kaohsiung Incident generation had only one enemy: the KMT. Today, the DPP has a variety of enemies, not least among them are rival factions within the party.

A coordinator between these different factions needs sophistication, stature and finesse. This kind of work may well be a grueling task.

Chen wants Lin to stay because Lin is a leader who commands respect and admiration. But what the DPP sorely needs at the moment is perhaps a dif-ferent kind of leader to tackle a new, different political milieu.

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