Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 8 News List

DPP, KMT must pay more attention to process

By Chang Szu-kang 張斯綱

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have recently staged fierce internal debates on how their presidential and legislative candidates should be nominated.

The DPP has decided to exclude pan-blue supporters from the opinion polls that will help to determine its candidates. This is an attack on certain of its own members that will only sow discord.

Meanwhile, the KMT's chairperson by-election and the nomination of its legislative candidates will serve as a yardstick of the party's progress after seven years in opposition.

A party's image is dependent on its ability to hold transparent, clean, fair and competitive intra-party elections. Parties should not engage in shady under-the-table deals. Following the example of the Election and Recall Law (選罷法), a set of regulations governing the internal elections of political parties should be included in the Political Party Act (政黨法).

The Election and Recall Law does not place any restrictions on internal party elections and there is therefore no legal basis for preventing vote-buying in such elections. Party politics is a very important part of democracy and party affairs should not be seen as an extralegal area. If a party has low standards when dealing with internal vote-buying issues, how can the public expect its candidates to run clean election campaigns?

In addition, the Political Donations Act (政治獻金法) should be revised to allow fund-raising in the chairmanship elections of any political party garnering more than 5 percent of the vote in legislative elections. This would allow "donations," which are an unavoidable part of these elections, to be scrutinized.

The Political Donations Act does not allow fund-raising in party chairmanship elections. The law should be amended to allow candidates to open fund-raising accounts that would be closed once the election is over. Party leaders have considerable impact on public affairs and national development, and are distinct from leaders of other organizations. It is not unheard of for financial groups to make donations to party leaders and these donations are not scrutinized. Such scrutiny would be conducive to democratic development.

The rules regulating the elections of the chairpersons of the country's two largest political parties state that the winner will be determined by a vote among their members. Other officials are elected in a process that includes the use of opinion polls to ensure that the party stays in touch with public opinion.

The chairperson of a political party represents the party's image and his or her decisions weigh heavily with the public -- these people are more important than legislators or city councilors. If opinion polls were included in the parties' chairperson elections, it would increase public awareness of the parties and their leaders and improve the parties' mechanisms for public participation.

The candidates for KMT chairperson -- Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) -- have yet to present their views or visions for the party's reform process. Although the KMT chairperson by-election was unexpected, Hung and Wu should still run their campaigns in a responsible manner. They should be telling the party rank and file what changes the KMT will bring to Taiwan and how these changes will make the country a better place, as well as stating their commitment to rooting out corruption and promoting professionalism.

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