The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) acting chairman Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) yesterday said that the DPP rank-and-file will elect a new chairman before Feb. 1.
Ker, who is also the DPP's legislative caucus whip, furthermore said that a number of the general budget bills for next year have not been passed yet and therefore the Cabinet reshuffle will not be initiated until January, since many incumbent governmental officials have to deal with the bills.
Ker also said that the DPP will come up with the details of the chairmanship election in its central executive committee meeting next Tuesday. A new chairman is expected to be announced before the Cabinet's reorganization on Feb. 1.
A DPP Central Standing Committee member, Chou Ching-yu (周清玉), who failed in her legislative re-election bid, has announced that she will campaign for the chairman's position. DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮), who is said to also be contending for the chairmanship, yesterday dismissed this news as "rumor."
The DPP did not discuss the new chairman's required qualifications in its last national convention on Sept. 26, but the convention reached a conclusion that a new chairman will be elected by its grassroots party members when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) stepped down from the position. Because of this, Ker said that he was worried that many unqualified candidates would join in the elections.
"There will be many elections in the next two years and the new chairman has to undertake the task of campaigning for our candidates as well as consolidate the DPP," Ker said.
"Therefore, the new chairman has to have a good reputation among our supporters," he said.
Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who has been touted by the local media as one of the prospective candidates for the premiership, yesterday said that he supported Chen's resignation, saying that it was done according to the DPP's tradition and culture.
"I think the president's resignation as DPP chairman demonstrates his sense of responsibility," Hsieh said.
"The president has also made up his mind to become a mediator and his resignation would help him to remain detached and objective in such a role," he said.
Hsieh said that he believed the DPP's organizational system has become mature enough to allow the president to not lead the party any longer.
Commenting on the DPP's failure to win a legislative majority on Saturday, Hsieh said that the DPP did not actually lose, as the party obtained more votes and seats than in the previous legislative elections.
Hsieh said that, compared with the other parties, the DPP was the only one that performed better in these elections than in the 2001 elections.
"The DPP just failed to achieve the goal it had set itself, which, realistically, was too high to attain," Hsieh said.