Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Shih's anti-Chen campaign has united DPP: analysts

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) did the DPP a favor by initiating the anti-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) campaign, analysts said.

After Shih officially launched the anti-Chen demonstrations on Sept. 9, the DPP has been divided, with some members supporting Chen and others criticizing him.

Although the party resolved to "consolidate the leadership" and requested party members to exercise self-restraint, some such as DPP legislators Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) and former DPP lawmaker Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) continued to be vocal critics.

Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) brother also unleashed a barrage of criticism against Chen.

Lu herself attempted to invite political leaders for talks with the hope of resolving political disputes.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also raised eyebrows when he expressed a hope to meet with political leaders. His intention was acknowledged by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) but the two have not yet met, mainly due to the pan-blue-initiated second recall motion.

As the anti-Chen movement fizzles out and its decision-makers continue to fray, Shih announced on Friday the scaling back of the protest but vowed to launch large-scale demonstrations if the results of the judicial inquiry into Chen's special presidential allowance fund turned out to be unsatisfactory.

Chen's critics fell silent and criticized the movement.

Meanwhile, the DPP's mayoral candidate for Kaohsiung, Chen Chu (陳菊) was polling well after the month-long anti-Chen fracas.

Analysts said the anti-Chen demonstrations helped the DPP to unite and activate its base supporters as the protest movement became more political.

"When the campaign transformed itself from anti-corruption to partisan and ethnic confrontations, the focus of the campaign became obscured and supporters were forced to chose sides," said Chao Yung-mau (趙永茂), a political science professor at National Taiwan University.

Although some pan-green supporters might have lost confidence in the DPP at the beginning of the campaign, Chao said they were compelled to defend the party administration as protests became more radical.

Chao, however, warned that the DPP is likely to lose the upcoming elections if the party and Chen fail to reflect and conduct wholesale reforms before next year's legislative election.

"The key lies in Chen and the party because the DPP is, after all, widely believed to be more honest and clean than its KMT counterpart," he said.

Chen Yen-hui (陳延輝), a professor at the Graduate Institute of Political Science at National Taiwan Normal University, said the protest movement had helped the DPP to do some house-cleaning.

In addition to Shih, some of the campaign decision-makers are either DPP members or close to the DPP.

Chen Yen-hui attributed DPP legislators' harsh rebukes against Chen at the beginning of the campaign to their "misjudgment of the situation."

"They thought President Chen was guilty as charged by some pro-unification newspapers," he said. "President Chen's critics in the party are the ones who hurt him the most in the campaign, not Shih and his disciples."

Lu thought the campaign would be successful and that she could take over the presidency, Chen Yen-hui said, but as a vice president, she was not in the position to make any move.

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