Wed, Mar 06, 2002 - Page 1 News List

DPP leadership endorses Chen for party chairman

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Faced with finding a suitable new party chairman, DPP headquarters announced yesterday that it supports the idea of having the head of state lead the party while it is in power and having party members directly elect the chairman when it is in the opposition.

The move may pave the way for the party's ultimate goal of adopting a fully presidential system.

Taiwan is currently practicing a semi-presidential political system modeled in part on the French system.

If all goes well, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will become the party's new chairman if the resolution is approved in the April 20 extraordinary national meeting attended by local chapter leaders.

The party is scheduled to elect the new chairman on May 26.

So far, in addition to Lee Chin-yung (李進勇), former Keelung mayor and member of the party's Justice Alliance (正義連線) faction, who has declared his candidacy, Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) and Yen Chin-fu (顏錦福), both from the Welfare State Alliance (福利國) faction, have also expressed keen interest in the position of party chairman.

Briefing the media after the weekly closed-door Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday afternoon, DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said that it was the consensus reached by the six committee members attending yesterday's meeting to have the head of state lead the party.

"We think that the president is the one who is most qualified to lead the party not only because he enjoys strong public support but also his term of office is four years, unlike that of legislative leaders, which is only one year," Hsieh said.

Although Chen had pledged to stay out of party affairs after taking office, Hsieh said that he is optimistic that the president will be willing to head the DPP if that is the ultimate decision made by the party.

"I'm sure the president will respect the party's final decision, as long as it's a consensus that is reached by all party members," he said.

Hsieh added that it would be a plus for Chen's future re-election bid if he were to head the DPP concurrently.

"I believe that the public would like to see a government which is efficient and unified," Hsieh said.

In response to a question concerning whether the party is reversing its stance on opposing the idea of having the head of state lead the party, Hsieh said that there is nothing wrong with the practice.

"What went awry during the KMT rule was that the party's chairman did not enjoy any public support but still headed the nation," he said.

Before the extraordinary national meeting takes place on April 20, Hsieh said the party welcomes party members, including lawmakers and local government officials, to hold a public debate to discuss the matter.

If the conclusion reached in the debate is different from yesterday's resolution, Hsieh said, both the two proposals will be presented to the national meeting for further review and final approval.

During yesterday's meeting, committee members also touched on the topic of internal party reforms.

All committee members agreed that it was better to integrate the party with the government than simply make the DPP a mere "election machine."

"We still think the party has to take part in the government's policy-making process instead of becoming just an election machine," Hsieh said.

To make the party function more efficiently, committee members also proposed to make certain adjustments.

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