Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) commented yesterday that Saturday's polls for local government chiefs were a triumph for Taiwan's democracy as a whole, even if they were a major setback for the governing Democratic Progressive Party.
The elections represented another victory for Taiwan's democracy, Lu told a colloquium held by the Democratic Pacific Union on Taiwan's elections and reforms yesterday morning. She explained it was a victory because the 66.2 percent voter turnout was as high as Central Election Commission Chairman Masa Chang's previous estimation of 66 percent on Friday. In addition, it was a victory for local democracy because no violence took place after the election result was announced, Lu believed.
"All those defeated showed their respect to the elected, and the elected also accepted the victory in a humble manner," the vice president praised.
She particularly saluted opposition Kuomintang Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his counterpart Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of the DPP for their response to the outcome. Lu lauded Ma for his humble attitude in accepting the KMT's sweeping victory, as in the face of the landslide victory Saturday night, Ma told his supporters that "we can celebrate for one evening, but that's all, as we must continue working to overcome numerous challenges that still lie ahead."
Lu went on to praise Su for his courage in offering to resign his chairmanship after the DPP lost Saturday's elections in the north, east and certain parts of central Taiwan.
"Although Su has offered to resign, DPP members can consider whether they should accept the chairman's resignation," the vice president suggested.
But Chairman Su was likely determined to shoulder the DPP's failure by stepping down from the post, as he started packing up personal belongings yesterday.
Lu admitted that Saturday's election result was a major setback for the ruling party, as the DPP won only five counties and one city, compared to the 14 seats won by the opposition Kuomintang in northern and eastern Taiwan.
"President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and I must shoulder all responsibility for the failure," the vice president said in response to the DPP only garnering 41.95 percent of all votes in comparison to the KMT's winning of 50.96 percent of ballots cast by voters in the country's 23 contested districts.
As speculation over a possible Cabinet reshuffle following the DPP's disastrous loss at Saturday's polls continued in political circles, Lu asked the public and DPP members to "give the president some more time to ponder the issue."
Lu continued by saying that sometimes "a failure can be transformed into additional strength leading to success."
"It was the setback of President Chen Shui-bian in his re-election bid for Taipei mayor in 1998 that led him to run in the 2000 presidential election, in which he clinched the presidency," Lu noted.
"The DPP must look thoroughly within to be able to cope with mayoral elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung cities (held next year) and the legislative elections (in 2007)," the vice president urged.
Recovering from the disappointment of Saturday's election setback, DPP candidates took to the streets in various cities and counties yesterday to express their gratitude to supporters. Among them was Taipei County magistrate candidate Luo Wen-jia (羅文嘉), who said that he would remember the support of all 790,233 votes cast for him on Saturday and fight to better the DPP so it could win back the hearts of the majority of Taiwanese people.
Holding a similar view to the vice president, Luo said that the DPP must reform in terms of its party's image to win back the trust and support of the voters after suffering the latest setback.
Luo believed that his failure in Taipei County and the party's crushing defeat in many parts of the country proved the party's needed to review its fundamental structure. "I believe that the DPP remains hopeful as long as we move forward along the path of reforms," he said.
A former aide of President Chen when the latter acted as Taipei City mayor from 1994 to 1998, Luo was also encouraged by some of his supporters yesterday to run for the mayoral campaign of Taipei City next year.
But Luo emphasized that it is more important to think about the party's future, rather than setting the next goal for his political career.
Besides Luo, two other former government officials who lost Saturday's battles in Taichung City and Taichung County - Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and Chiu Tai-san - both vowed to continue campaigning for the next four years and improving the well-being of the region.