Members at the Democratic Progressive Party national party congress yesterday agreed in principle to resume member-based voting for election nominees in the hope of getting “back in touch” with its grassroots.
While the details are to be discussed at a later date, the consensus was no surprise, as the proposal had gained momentum long before the congress, which gathered 560 party representatives at the Taipei International Convention Center for the party’s most important meeting of the year.
The congress discussed proposals submitted by representatives and elected members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and the Central Standing Committee (CSC) — the DPP’s primary decision-making and administrative body.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), presiding over the first party congress since taking the party helm in May, pledged that the DPP would be “open minded” and actively engage all sectors of society in its quest to return to power.
Su reminded everyone of where the party had come from, highlighting that yesterday was coincidentally the 25th anniversary of the lifting of martial law.
The former premier, who was at the center of the DPP’s restructuring process in the congress, accused the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of failing to improve people’s livelihood, maintaining a clean and effective government, expanding Taiwan’s international space and keeping the country free from Chinese oppression.
For the DPP, many tasks — including strengthening the its local connections and organization, as well as formulation of the party’s “new and improved” China policy — are being worked on to help defeat the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in future elections, he said.
However, the elections appeared to be the most important item on the agenda yesterday as the congress only spent one hour on discussion and only one proposal — the resumption of member voting — was discussed, with Su deciding to send all the other proposals to the CEC for further discussion.
Supporters of the resumption, among them former DPP legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) and Greater Tainan DPP office director Tsai Wang-chuan (蔡旺詮), said the nomination process in recent years, which relied exclusively on the results of public opinion polls, had alienated party members and the practice was “undemocratic.”
While most members agreed with the resumption of the voting, some expressed concerns about possible negative effects in the meeting.
The issue of “proxy members” has been one of the most serious problems plaguing the DPP as well as an issue which “could be leveraged by the KMT, which could influence the judiciary system to crucify DPP politicians,” Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) said, since they now constitute a violation of election law.
Another initiative proposed to re-establish township-level party offices to consolidate local support and organization.
Notable proposals also included the inclusion of former party chairpersons as CEC members, a recall movement against KMT lawmakers across the nation and a “rescue task force” to bring former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, out of prison.
In the statement issued by the congress, the DPP reaffirmed its position as a party “for the people” and said that the party carries an “inescapable responsibility” of meeting people’s high expectations.