Thu, Jan 19, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Election of Yu a clear victory for president

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

Former Presidential Office secretary-general Yu Shyi-kun, a former premier, was elected chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Sunday after garnering 25,397 votes, or 54.44 percent of the votes cast. The outcome was not surprising.

On the contrary, if Yu had lost, the DPP would have been in trouble, because this would have signified the failure of the party's administrative performance, as well as its impending collapse.

After the DPP's trouncing in last month's local elections, the relationship between the party and the administration became a focus in the chairmanship election. But this was in fact a "fake" issue. In light of the development of Taiwan's politics and parties, how can the party possibly become a US-style electoral machine overnight?

Let's put aside other issues for now. With the party's New Tide faction publicly challenging President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), saying that he should not try to run the country by himself, it is very clear that separating party from administration is impossible.

In terms of the future interaction between the party and the administration, the three candidates for chairperson proposed different policies. This shows that the DPP's policy has not been finalized. Yu's victory has legitimated his policy of "party-administration alignment."

This is certainly the path that the party must take. If former Changhua County commissioner Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) had been elected chairwoman, she would have had to abandon her policy of "party-administration separation" in favor of a collegiate system. If separation occurs, the party will be excluded from the government's administrative operations, and it will be damaged and marginalized.

Today, the DPP is the ruling party, and its power is divided between the Presidential Office, the Cabinet and the legislature. The party's power will be limited unless it can gain control of the legislature. But this is not possible in reality.

In a recent seminar, entitled "The DPP's reform and future," Yu said a "party-administration alignment" policy has been absent for almost six years. He also asked: "After a separation, can the party remain in power?" After all, Yu is familiar with politics and knows the inseparability of party and administration in reality.

More importantly, Yu's victory is partially the result of his political experience, which is far greater than that of his chairmanship rivals Wong or Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮). This clearly shows the importance of his political background. In this situation, how can party and administration be separated?

After Yu takes over the DPP's chairmanship, apart from the year-end Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections and the 2008 presidential election, the biggest challenge he faces is realizing a "party-administration alignment." In other words, can he demonstrate the necessity of the party in the DPP administrative regime, or further promote its status?

The DPP's setback in last month's elections pushed Chen into an administrative crisis. But Yu's victory served to show voter support for Chen. Based on the president's New Year speech, placing Yu at the head of the party will help Chen in the last two years of his presidency. His win will support Chen in revitalizing the government.

Chin Heng-wei is the editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine.

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