One day before registration opened for candidates for the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) chairmanship, DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) announced that he would not compete for the post.
Chang made the announcement yesterday morning at a news conference at the DPP's headquarters.
The decision had nothing to do with the election for legislative speaker, he said.
After a long deliberation, Chang said he decided not to campaign for the position and had reported his decision to President Chen Shui-bian (
Chen stepped down from the DPP chairmanship two weeks ago to take responsibility for the pan-green camp's failure to win a legislative majority.
Since the DPP unveiled the guidelines for candidates for chairman last Tuesday, Chang has generally been considered the most likely candidate, in terms of seniority and experience.
However, Chang said Chen had accepted his decision, adding that the president did not have a preference for who would become the party's new chairman, contrary to speculation.
Chang noted that the DPP's future leader will have to guide the party to participate in and win seven major elections in the next three years, including polls to choose representatives of the ad hoc National Assembly and county commissioners next year, elections for mayors of local townships and cities, as well as county councilors in 2006, elections for the mayors of councils of Taipei and Kaohsiung City in 2006, the legislative elections in 2007 and finally the presidential and vice presidential elections in 2008.
"The new DPP chairman will face a more difficult and more challenging political environment in the future," Chang said. "It is a significant task to lead the DPP to win the coming seven elections, and we need a person who is energetic, capable and patient to shoulder such an arduous responsibility."
"I believe the DPP's most valuable quality is to insist on being progressive and reform-minded, and we have always welcomed new blood to join us and contribute their efforts in every critical moment over the past decades," Chang said. "This is the reason the DPP has been able to create political milestones in Taiwan's history."
As one of the party's legislators-at-large and a hopeful for the candidacy of legislative speaker, Chang denied that his decision had to do with wanting to compete for the speakership of the Legislative Yuan.
Chang said the speakership election is a complicated issue and whether he will join the campaign will require comprehensive consideration.
Chang submitted his resignation as DPP secretary-general and legislator-at-large to the president on the evening of Dec.11 to take responsibility for the party's election failure. Chen, however, quickly overruled this, saying that he was the one who would take complete responsibility.
"Since the pan-green camp did not win a majority in the legislature, President Chen and related staff are evaluating the chances [of winning the speakership election]," Chang said.
Chang said the ruling party has the responsibility to stabilize the country's political situation and has to think about the possibility of cooperating with the opposition parties.
"How to replace confrontation with cooperation is an important issue for the ruling party. Under such circumstances, whether I will contend for the legislative speaker is not a simple yes-or-no question," Chang said.