Sat, Jul 10, 2004 - Page 3 News List

DPP committee mulls changes to party structure due to chairmanship switch

LEININIST ROOTS A panel of top party officials met to grapple with reforming a party designed to make policy as an opposition force, not as a ruling government

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) committee yesterday lauded President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) two years of leadership as the party chairman for synchronizing the party with state affairs, but they also resolved to change what they called the party's Leninist characteristics remaining from its years as an opposition party.

The DPP's party development committee, the panel tasked with reforming the party in the wake of Chen's move to relinquish the party chairmanship, yesterday met to discuss how to reposition the party for sustainable development.

The committee is headed by party Secretary General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) and includes a total of 13 members, including Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Yu Shyi-kun, Presidential Office Secretary General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and senior DPP legislators and scholars. Lu, Yu and Su were absent from yesterday's meeting.

DPP Deputy Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said members of the committee reached a preliminary consensus yesterday that the DPP must change the Leninist characteristics through which the party served as an active policy-making mechanism in leading government administration.

Lee said that after the DPP came to power, the party's policy-making abilities were largely transferred to the Presidential Office, administrative branches and legislative caucuses.

The committee discussed how the future role of the party will change when Chen leaves the chairmanship and how the next party chairman would be chosen, discussing whether the chairman's direct election by party members is necessary once the party's policy-making function is reduced.

Another DPP secretary general, Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱), said the party was discussing whether to reposition the party into a "soft" party like the US' Republican and Democratic parties, or to strengthen it into a "hard" party like the parties in France and the UK, which take stronger roles in drafting and influencing government policy.

Even though the party's policy-making functions are gradually being replaced by administrative agencies, Lee yesterday said that members of the committee recognized Chen for making the chairmanship an information-exchange platform for policy makers in the Presidential Office, the Cabinet and the legislature.

"Some members expressed objections to the DPP becoming merely an election campaign machine like the US parties, as the historical and social contexts of the two countries are different. The DPP's development was closely connected with Taiwan's social movements in past decades," Lee said.

The party development committee is designated to study methods of electing a party chairman to revise a party clause passed in 2002 that forces the president to serve concurrently as the party's chairman.

A survey of hundreds of party executives yesterday indicated that 79 percent of respondents regarded Chen's serving as chairman as enhancing the cooperation between party and state affairs. Sixty percent of the officials opposed Chen resigning the chairmanship after the year-end legislative elections.

No conclusions were reached at yesterday's committee meeting, which will be complemented by seminars inviting party members and experts to provide advice for the reforms. The proposals will be submitted as changes to the party's organizational regulations before its 18th anniversary on Sept. 28.

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