Sun, Oct 07, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: DPP needs to pick up the pace

Will President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) accept the call of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Central Standing Committee and reassume the position of party chairman? Chen is making it clear that he is still considering the offer, and it is widely believed that he will accept the post.

With the presidential and legislative elections around the corner, the smart thing for the president to do would be to accept the post, roll up his sleeves and get to work.

Regardless of who is party chairman, Chen is the one who has been calling the shots in the DPP. There are various reasons for this. Most obviously, Chen is the head of state, so it is natural that he should retain clout.

Aside from that, no matter how strong the criticism of his performance in office, Chen will always hold the special title of being the first president to lead the opposition DPP into the Presidential Office after the end of one-party rule.

That said, in light of the competition and lack of consensus within the DPP -- first over who should become the party's presidential nominee and then over the "normal country resolution" -- it is not surprising that most DPP members feel the need to "formalize" Chen's existing status as the one in charge by making him chairman. By putting Chen back in charge, they hope to cement party unity ahead of the elections.

The resignation of Yu Shyi-kun as chairman last week was intended to make a point. His term as chairman was almost finished, so it wasn't necessary for him to step down immediately.

Stepping down strengthens Yu's reputation as a strong advocate of independence and a champion of the deep-green cause. He will be remembered as the person who resigned as chairman in defense of a version of the "normal country resolution" that incorporated stronger rhetoric on the issue of the national title.

Yu has thus secured a segment of the DPP's voter base and staked out a direction for his future political moves.

For the DPP, the decision to reject the more progressive version of the resolution was a difficult one. It meant angering the more progressive segment of its voter base without necessarily winning over the support of any swing voters.

But the DPP must realize that, to moderates, the differences between the versions of the resolution were almost negligible. The approved version does not explicitly call for the national title to be changed to "Taiwan." But what else could "name rectification" mean?

Still, if the party had opted for Yu's version, all hope of winning over moderate voters would have been lost. The party found itself with a decision that would, no matter what they did, alienate voters.

But heated debate is a natural part of a democratic party. Without it, it would be difficult to consider all options and make the best decision. The next task for the DPP is to get its new chairman in place and prepare for a tough election.

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