Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators gave mixed responses after Vice-President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) yesterday reversed course and decided to retain her party's top post.
Lu offered to resign as the party's acting chairperson on Monday, saying she did not want to become a "sacrificial offering" amid factional struggles. On Tuesday evening, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) issued a press release stating his dissatisfaction with Lu's recent "aggressive activities" as acting chairperson. Chen said that he does care about the party's reform, but prefers to stay detached from the operations of the DPP Central Standing Committee.
"I've been bothered by recent rumors regarding the controversy surrounding the DPP acting chairperson. I did not get involved in any manipulation. Nor did I asked anyone to watch the party for me," Chen said in the press release.
Chen said that such speculation would not benefit the party, stressing that the party's new leadership should not be seen as an extension of his will. According to the press release, there is nothing amiss between Chen and Lu. The press release was Chen's first official response to recent speculation over alleged tension between the nation's top two leaders.
Nevertheless, DPP lawmakers yesterday welcomed Lu's change of heart in agreeing to stay on as acting party leader, but stressed the need for talks between the president and vice president.
DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said that the caucus is optimistic that the tension between Chen and Lu will soon be resolved.
"The DPP is a democratic party where members are free to voice their own opinions," said Lai. "Since the party was established in 1986, we have gone through a lot of difficulties and overcome them. The reason is simple: we take public opinion seriously, and I'm confident that we will do so again this time."
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), secretary-general of the party's Justice Alliance faction, expressed the same opinion and said that he believes the fray will soon be over.
Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), convener of the party's New Tide faction, called on Lu to realize her responsibilities as acting party chair and said that it would be inappropriate for her to run in the party chairmanship election, scheduled to take place before the Lunar New Year.
Other DPP lawmakers called on the president and vice president to talk things over rather than communicating via the media.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said that it baffles him why the president settled the matter via a press release rather than talking with Lu.
"I'm wondering whether the president has secrets or problems that he cannot reveal or he is so sick and tired of the vice president that he doesn't want to talk to her," he said.
He said he was surprised to hear the news that Lu will stay on, but was happy with her decision.
"I just hope they stop fighting with each other and come to their senses," he said. "As long as we work together, we still stand a chance of winning in the next presidential election."
DPP caucus whip Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) expressed the same opinion and emphasized that he had no intention of taking the job.
Jao, the party's leading caucus leader, was tipped to take over the party's top job following the resignation of former DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).
He voted for himself during the last Central Standing Committee meeting. Other party members, however, questioned the credentials of Jao, a KMT member who defected to the DPP about four years ago.