The indictment of first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) and four top presidential aides for forgery and corruption on Nov. 3 has placed many of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) allies and supporters as well as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in a quandary as whether to continue supporting Chen's presidency or join the opposition in demanding Chen's resignation.
If the crimes of which Wu and her alleged accomplices are accused had nothing to do with Chen, the situation would have been much easier. However, according to the indictment letter, Chen appears to have been involved.
Under the circumstances, all those who continue to say that Chen should be allowed to stay in his job face an uphill battle. In light of the upcoming elections -- the mayoral elections and the legislative elections in a little more than a year -- the pressure on these people cannot be underestimated.
Some people are depicting the current situation as the biggest crisis of the DPP in its twenty or so years of history. The DPP rose to power with platforms and campaign slogans that focused on anti-corruption and clean politics -- a stark contrast to the old Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). While the KMT disappointed those who had hoped it would learn and grow from its presidential defeats -- first in 2000 and then in 2004 -- the DPP has been disappointing as a ruling party as well.
First, the DPP's performance in ruling the country has been lukewarm. In that regard, some people use the DPP's inexperience to explain this situation and argue that the party deserves some understanding.
Second is the swaggering cross-strait policy of the DPP. It is somewhat difficult to tell whether the party in fact has a cross-strait policy, and if it does what it actually consists of. Sometimes it seems to lean so much toward pro-independence while at others it tips toward the other end of the spectrum. This lack of consistency leaves many people confused.
Had the DPP been able, despite its other shortcomings, to maintain an image of anti-corruption, it would at least have left an honorable legacy from its eight years in power.
Although the DPP officially announced last week that it supports the president's decision to step down immediately if the first lady is found guilty, different perspectives are being voiced from within the party. This is especially true with the younger generations within the DPP, who are the future of the party and who fully understand the political implications if the DPP remains incapable of drawing a line between itself and the first family.
For those who wonder why the DPP remains hesitant to take any drastic stance in order to put some distance between itself and the Chen family, the answer is that it may just be too late. Moreover, as the first person elected as president from the DPP and the pro-independence camp, a lot of traditional DPP and pro-independence supporters feel a special sense of attachment to Chen. If the DPP takes any drastic measures to distance itself from him, it may incur the wrath of many of its traditional supporters.
It is a most difficult decision for the DPP to make, indeed.