Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Deputy Secretary-General Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) has cleared out his office at party headquarters, in a sign that infighting may have escalated over the party’s nomination for the year-end Tainan County commissioner election.
Asked for comment, Chen Chi-mai said he was no longer the party’s deputy secretary-general.
DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) yesterday confirmed that Chen had cleared out his office.
Chen had been exhausted and taken leave for health reasons over the past three or four weeks, Cheng said.
Asked whether Chen had turned in his resignation, Cheng said: “I would have to confirm with Chairperson Tsai [Ing-wen (蔡英文)] whether Chen’s resignation has been approved.”
Upon hearing the news, Huang Chin-lin (黃慶林), director of the DPP’s Taipei branch, said: “The party headquarters can just go ahead and fill up with New Tide faction [members] and everyone else can just leave.”
Chen Chi-mai is highly capable and it would be a shame to see him leave, Huang said.
“But he cannot bring his skills into full play because the chairperson doesn’t listen to him,” he said.
Huang said Chen Chi-mai had told him in a phone call last Wednesday that he felt powerless and would soon leave party headquarters.
DPP Legislator Kao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said yesterday that Chen Chi-mai had wanted to leave for a long time.
“It may be good for him to go ... It’s also a good thing to let the New Tide faction completely run the party and shoulder all the responsibility — just like the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT),” he said.
Factions have long played a role within the DPP, particularly in the distribution of party resources and positions, including the heads of party departments and membership in the Central Standing Committee and other bodies.
The New Tide faction was seen as the DPP’s most organized faction, but in July 2006 the party passed a resolution dissolving all factions as part of reform efforts.
Nevertheless, the previous factional affiliations of party members are thought to have a lingering role in the party’s internal politics.
The DPP last Wednesday chose DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊毅) to run for Tainan County commissioner.
One of Lee’s rivals for the nomination, former Presidential Office secretary-general Mark Chen (陳唐山), said he had been left out because of party infighting. He announced he would run in the election in defiance of factional forces.
Some party members have speculated that Mark Chen’s bid for the nomination was blocked by former members of the New Tide faction in favor of Lee.
The DPP headquarters yesterday stood by its nomination of Lee. Lee may have a lower support rate than Mark Chen in some opinion polls, but the party only uses such polls as a reference, it said.
According to a poll conducted by the Chinese-language China Times, Lee and Mark Chen’s approval ratings are 15 percent and 25 percent respectively.
“From the past few elections we know that opinion polls can only be used as a reference. The results of the polls can differ among media with different political affiliations, so we do not view a single poll as the standard,” Cheng said yesterday.
Lee said yesterday he had visited Tsai to discuss the situation in Tainan.
“Tainan supporters respect the party’s [nomination], but some have worries about Mark Chen’s [decision to run],” Lee said.
Tsai was quoted by Lee as saying that she would shoulder the responsibility for any difficulties that arise over the nomination, but he added, "I don't know in what form."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER