The race to become the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate might drag on after a call for a vote at the party’s national congress, DPP insiders said yesterday.
DPP officials known to support President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) were quoted in Chinese-language media reports as saying that if the stalemate over the primary process cannot be resolved at Wednesday’s Central Executive Committee meeting, then the issue would go to the national congress to be voted on by party members.
“Going to a vote at the national congress is also a democratic mechanism for deciding major issues,” the reports quoted a DPP official, who requested anonymity, as saying.
Photo: Su Fun-her, Taipei Times
However, other DPP officials said they did not want to see the issue drag out to the national congress, as it would see the primary process extended, which could lead to more discord, further damaging the party.
Mediation should resolve the issue and both camps should be able to reach an agreement in a few weeks, they said.
Others said that voting at the congress might been seen as circumventing the primary process by directly nominating Tsai as the candidate, as it is believed that Tsai has more support among party factions.
“Tsai has always stressed following the mechanism,” Taipei City Councilor Juan Chao-hsiung (阮昭雄) said.
Juan, who is the spokesman for Tsai’s camp, reiterated her stance that public surveys should be conducted half by calls to landlines and half to cellphones, and that questions should include Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) as a potential independent candidate.
Meanwhile, former premier William Lai (賴清德), who is challenging Tsai’s re-election bid, said that it would be best to keep the rules of the primary as they are, indicating that he would oppose a decision being made at the national congress.
“The DPP has received unconditional support from people over many decades because it advances the values of democracy and progress,” Lai said. “We must uphold these values so we can continue to enjoy the support of the people.”
Regarding media reports that Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) asked former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to mediate the stalemate between the two DPP presidential hopefuls, Lai said: “The best course of action would be not to change the rules for the primary process and for the party to follow them.”
“The two of us have presented our vision and policy platforms for leading the nation, so we should let the people decide who would best represent the DPP in the presidential election,” he said.
The Lai camp is opposed to the Central Executive Committee changing the rules regarding public surveys and it might launch a legal challenge if necessary, a Lai camp source said.
“The DPP’s rules for the primary were announced before the process started and both candidates had registered by March. As such, an agreement has been reached,” the source said. “If one side were to make unilateral changes that disadvantaged the other side, it would be a breach of that agreement.”
“Therefore a legal challenge would be one way to protect the aggrieved party’s rights,” the source said.
Amid the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) political wrangling in September 2013, its leadership stripped then-legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of his party membership, but Wang filed a legal challenge and won the right to keep his membership, the source said.
“Therefore the protection of the law and constitutional mechanisms extend even to internal party matters, which includes its decisionmaking bodies, including the Central Executive Committee, the central standing committee and the national congress,” the source said.
“A party cannot make arbitrary decisions on party rules and regulations,” they added.
Additional reporting by Yang Chun-hui
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