Rifts began to appear in the Demo-cratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday over how President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should react to a corruption scandal, as the party officially said it supported him, although some members called on him to "temporarily" resign.
DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) told reporters that the DPP might ask Chen to step down "officially or unofficially," and allow the vice president and the Executive Yuan to run the government to "prevent political opposition."
Cheng said the opposition parties will not have any reason to push for a recall motion if the president were to temporarily step down.
DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (
He added that the president did not explain clearly many questionable points about the "state affairs fund" case during his televised address on Sunday.
Lee said that the DPP should also investigate the case.
DPP Legislator Lin Cho-shui (
DPP Legislator Kao Chih-peng (
He said there were no regulations that allowed the president to "take leave," adding that if Chen asked for such leave, it could trigger a constitutional crisis.
Meanwhile, DPP legislators Lan Mei-chin (
But not everyone in the pan-green camp was so forgiving.
Jou Yi-cheng (
"If he stays, he is the president constitutionally. He can exercise his constitutional power, but we refuse to take him as our political leader," Jou said.
"His political leadership is already denied [by us]," Jou said.
The pro-independence Taipei Society also issued an official statement on Saturday urging Chen to step down.
The society's president, Hawang Shiow-duan (黃秀端), told the Taipei Times that the society's stance remained unchanged after Chen's national address.
She said Chen may not be able to lead the country effectively even if he finishes his term.
"In terms of the cost the public has to pay, the president's resignation is the best choice," Hawang said.
Meanwhile, despite pessimism over whether a third motion against Chen could pass, pan-blue lawmakers yesterday said that they would still introduce the motion.
The third recall motion is expected to be placed on the legislative agenda for review by the pan-blue dominated Procedure Committee today.
However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) lawmakers were still divided on whether to call for a no-confidence vote against Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), a move that might result in the dissolution of the legislature.
"It's a fanciful hope that the president would step down voluntarily. If the third recall motion fails, we would propose a no-confidence vote," PFP Spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said.
But KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) declined to put his weight behind a no-confidence vote, only saying that the party did not rule out forcing Chen's resignation by "other measures" should a third recall fail.
Lee said that it was likely that a third recall motion would be doomed to fail because of the Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) about-turn on the issue.
"Considering this, KMT Chairman Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)] should get tough on a motion of no-confidence," he said.
The legislature might schedule a vote on the third recall on Nov. 24 if the motion is put onto the legislative agenda today.
A recall motion requires the backing of two-thirds of all sitting legislators to pass, which would initiate a public referendum on whether Chen should step down, while a no-confidence motion needs just a simple majority of sitting legislators.
The pan-blue lawmakers, holding a slim majority, would have no difficulty in toppling the Cabinet, but the president's constitutional power to dissolve the legislature after a Cabinet is toppled makes some of them hesitant to support it.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Office yesterday declined to comment on the DPP legislators' proposals that Chen Shui-bian take a leave of absence.
Presidential Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽) said that since the proposals are personal opinions of individual lawmakers, he would not comment until the DPP reaches a consensus on the matter at its weekly Central Standing Committee meeting tomorrow.
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Editorial: Should he stay or should he go now?
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