The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday reached an agreement that the two parties' presidential candidates, President Chen Shui-bian (
KMT Secretary General Lin Feng-cheng (
Although the two camps failed to reach agreement on the date and the topics to be covered, they concluded that only Chen and Lien would participate in the debate in their capacities as presidential candidates. People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), Lien's running mate in the election, would not participate in the debate.
The two sides also agreed that each party would form a five-person task force to conduct further talks on the debate. The ten task force members will convene for the first time at the KMT's headquarters next Monday.
The DPP proposed three dates for the debate: Dec. 1, Dec. 4 or Dec. 5, while the KMT offered to debate on Dec. 25, the anniversary of the promulgation of the ROC Constitution.
The two sides clashed over the topics to be debated after the KMT demanded that the DPP should propose its version of the new constitution before February next year.
The KMT recently proposed amending the ROC Constitution following the DPP's announcement in September that it wants to create a new constitution -- an issue that has seen increasing public support.
Amid the growing public support, Lien proposed a quick three-step constitutional revision project to be completed in early 2005. On Saturday he invited Chen to take part in a debate on the issue.
However, the DPP insisted on following the three principles Chen proposed for creating a new constitution: that the DPP will not set any preconditions for constructing a constitution, the DPP proposes to use the referendum to decide on the content of the constitution, and the DPP insists the proposed constitution should be thoroughly discussed in public.
According to the DPP's schedule creating a new constitution, it would wait until 2006 before creating a new constitution and would enact it in 2008.
Lin contended that the DPP should provide a clear framework for the debate and clarify whether its creation of a constitution is to promote the creation of a "Republic of Taiwan."
Chang said that the DPP would stick to its own timetable and that the procedural work of writing a new constitution could be left open for debate.
Yesterday's meeting in the DPP's headquarters was attended by, among others, KMT policy committee convener and vice convener Tseng Yung-chuan (
The DPP's attendees, led by party secretary Chang, included Deputy Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (
The DPP yesterday released a poll indicting that 44 percent of the public supported the constitutional issue to be raised in the election and that 62 percent of the poll respondents agreed that changing the constitution should not be conducted hastily and should incorporate sufficient public discussion.
The poll also showed that Chen and Lien's public support was still very close, with Chen's support rate at 34.7 percent and Lien's at 34.1 percent.
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