Wed, Feb 22, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Lawmaker urges ‘US-style’ party reforms for the DPP

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should carry out reforms to reorganize itself as a “US-style” political party rather than a “traditional Leninist” party so that it can become a true “people’s party,” a DPP lawmaker said yesterday.

DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a forum he was not proposing total reform, but the party should at least change the makeup of its decisionmaking body and party primary mechanism to incorporate “the voice of the people.”

“It would be naive to assume that the DPP is able to transplant the US political party system and be successful, but reform and transformation is a must for the party’s survival,” Chen told the forum, organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust think tank to discuss the DPP’s next leader.

DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is expected to step down on March 1, six weeks after she lost the presidential election, and the party is beginning the search for its next leader.

The DPP should include more elected officials and representatives from different levels in its Central Standing Committee, so that the party is “closer to the people,” Chen said.

A new mechanism for party primaries, the election of a chairperson and nominations for election candidates should also be developed based on the spirit of the US system to allow more supporters, not just party members, to participate in the process, he said.

If the DPP fails to reform, it would not be able to re-invent itself and overcome future challenges, he said, as the next chairperson would be doing exactly the same thing as his or her predecessors — running the party machine and keeping the different factions happy.

“It will be difficult, but it is time for total reform,” Chen said.

Discussing who could be the next leader of the party, participants at the forum declined to name specific candidates given the “sensitivity” of the issue.

Regardless of who the next DPP head is, Chen said, he or she will have to win the trust of the international community and Taiwanese society, and have “excellent strategic thinking” on cross-strait relations.

In light of the impact of the US and Chinese interference in the presidential election, the new DPP chairperson should consider whether to establish a Chinese Affairs Department, which was incorporated into the party’s International Affairs Department because of a lack of resources, and a US office, deactivated after the DPP won power in 2000, but never reinstated after the party lost the 2008 election, said Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), a former representative to the US.

The new leader should expand his or her decisionmaking circle and seamlessly work with the 40-member strong legislative caucus, Wu said.

Though he had similar views, DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said Tsai’s leadership qualities should not be lost, proposing that the party name Tsai as its top consultant and the executive director of its Policy Research Committee.

DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the new party leader needs to be able to handle relations with the US and China by maintaining a “dynamic stability, within the triangular framework.”

Internally, the party should highlight solidarity after the setback in the presidential election, regardless of who the new chairperson is, Lee said.

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