Parties need to embrace democracy - Taipei Times
Fri, Nov 26, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Parties need to embrace democracy

By Chiu Hei-yuan瞿海源

It has been 110 years since the establishment of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) predecessor, the Society for Regenerating China, in Honolulu in November 1894. From Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), who was appointed chairman in Tokyo in August 1905 when he organized the Revolutionary Alliance, the society's successor, to Lien Chan (連戰), who took the KMT's chairmanship in April 2000 after losing the presidential election in the same year, there have been only five leaders over the past century, with each serving for an average of a quarter century.

Among the five, former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) enjoyed the longest chairmanship of 37 years, compared to the 20-year term of Sun and the 13-year term of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國). Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), after a short period of power struggles following the younger Chiang's death, enjoyed a 12-year chairmanship.

If Lien resigns when his term expires early next year, the length of his chairmanship will be about four years. Since the older Chiang's death, the length of the KMT chairman's term has obviously been shrinking. Compared to the younger Chiang and Lee, Lien has only enjoyed a short chairmanship, because the party has been losing its power. Still, his four-year term is actually longer than that of any Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman.

From now on, if a KMT chairperson is elected president, then he or she may enjoy a four-year chairmanship. If the person is re-elected again, then he or she may enjoy an eight-year chairmanship.

For the DPP, if a president still has to serve concurrently as chairperson, then the chairmanship of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will be as long as six years, which is longer than that of any DPP chairman, or even Lien. If the party maintains the idea of "synchronizing the party and the administration," demanding that a president also serve as chairperson, whoever wins a presidential election will also serve concurrently as chairperson for four or eight years.

Looking back at the 18-year history of the DPP, there have been eight chairmen, each serving for an average of two-and-a-quarter years. Among the eight, Huang Hsin-chieh (黃信介) served two terms for a total of two years. After each term was extended from one to two years, Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) also served two terms. But he served less than four years, as he stepped down to take responsibility for the party's failure in the legislative, county and city elections. Although Chen was re-elected chairman, the length of his chairmanship is not yet the longest. The People First Party (PFP) was established right after the defeat of James Soong (宋楚瑜) in the 2000 presidential election. Soong has held the chairmanship for more than four years, and he is likely to stay there. Unless he can retain the position after the KMT and PFP merge, the length of his chairmanship will be about five years.

As for Lien, he will be unable to keep the chairmanship for long, unless he can win the lawsuits to nullify both the presidential election and election results. His stepping down will be a turning point for the KMT's transformation into a real democratic party, and for Taiwan's further democratization as well.

By looking at the numbers of chairmen of major parties and the length of their terms, we can clearly see the historical development of Taiwan's democratization. Both the KMT and PFP have failed to build democratic party systems to this day. This is an obstacle to our democratization. Hopefully, the two can get rid of their autocratic leadership soon, so as to embrace democratic party systems.

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