Tue, Dec 14, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Chen Shui-bian to quit as DPP chairman

POLL FAILURE The president is set to tender his resignation today before the party's Central Standing Committee to take responsibility for its disappointing performance

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is expected to step down as chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) today to shoulder responsibility for the pan-green camp's failure to win a legislative majority in Saturday's poll.

"The president will tender his resignation before [today's] weekly Central Standing Committee meeting to assume full responsibility for the election," DPP legislative caucus leader Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) told reporters after speaking with Chen at the Presidential Office last night. "The resignation of party officials and their replacements will be dealt with by the new chairman."

It is understood that the acting chairman will be elected from among the members of the Central Standing Committee.

Chen remained in the Presidential Office yesterday morning and canceled all afternoon activities. He called in party heavyweights to the Presidential Office for talks in the afternoon.

They included Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Ker, Premier Yu Shyi-kun, Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯).

DPP members have been calling for Chen's resignation as party chairman since Saturday night.

"If he can't be held responsible, who can?" asked DPP Legislator Tony Jian (簡肇棟), who lost his seat. Although the DPP gained two seats and a higher proportion of the vote compared to the 2001 legislative elections, Jian said that Chen should still assume responsibility for not winning half of the 225 seats as the party had hoped.

Jian attributed the party's lackluster performance to Chen's choice of campaign topics and slogans.

"Take the `soft coup' theory for example. Hadn't he wanted harmony between the ruling and opposition parties and didn't he keep calling for reconciliation with them?" he asked. "His provocative and aggressive approach to the campaign simply made centrist voters so sick and tired of the party that they decided not to cast their ballots."

Jian said that party operations would not be interrupted even if Chen did resign from the chairmanship, because Central Standing Committee members were the highest decision-making body in the party.

Echoing Jian's argument, DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) yesterday called on Chen to quit the chairmanship and instead arbitrate between the parties.

"Nobody wants the president to step down from the presidency but he should quit the [chairmanship] and take full responsibility for defeat in accordance with party tradition," he said.

DPP Legislator Lin Yu-sheng (林育生) said that if he were Chen, he would step down from the chairmanship.

"If he has any political wisdom, he should relinquish control and let younger talent take over at the party's helm," he said.

Saying the issue was sensitive, unseated DPP Legislator Chiu Chui-chen (邱垂貞) hesitated to discuss the issue, but later said that both Chen and the Central Standing Committee should be held res-ponsible for selecting too many candidates in some electorates.

The DPP nominated seven candidates and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) nominated two candidates in Chiu's electorate of Taoyuan County, but together the pan-green camp won only five of the 13 seats. The pan-blue camp nominated 10 and eight were elected.

When asked by the media yesterday if Chen or Yu should be held responsible for the election, Annette Lu said that it was unfair to ask individuals to assume all of the responsibility for the election when the matter still required thorough examination.

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