The Central Standing Committee of the governing Democratic Progressive Party yesterday appointed Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) as acting chairwoman in a move that Lu dubbed as a "surprise."
In its first meeting after the DPP's major defeat in Saturday's city and county magistrate elections, the party's highest policymaking body discussed a report re-examining the party's lackluster performance in the polls and decided upon an interim replacement for outgoing DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who resigned Saturday to take political responsibility for the party's net loss of four top county and city offices among the 23 contested around the country from 10 to six.
Lu becomes the DPP's first female chairperson in history and her appointment signals the return of the "Formosa" group of democratic activists of the 1970s to the helm of the governing party.
The vice president was one of the eight defendants in the landmark military "sedition" trial of the democratic opposition group organized around "Formosa" monthly magazine. The eight were arrested in the wake of a crackdown on the democratic movement launched by the Kuomintang, which was ruling at the time under a martial law decree.
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Su acted as members of the legal defense team for the "Formosa" group, all of whom were sentenced to lengthy terms for "sedition."
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Lu said the committee had "extremely surprisingly" chosen her to be acting chairwoman to carry out the by-election of a new leader and added that she was "entirely unprepared" to take on the challenge.
The vice president stated that other party officials appointed by Su, including DPP Secretary-General Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋), will be asked to stay at their posts pending election of a new chairman.
According to Article 15 of the DPP's charter, since Su left before half of his two-year term was completed, the interim chairperson "should" organize a direct by-election to fill the position permanently.
DPP Culture and Information Department Director Cheng Wen-tsan stated that the party charter did not set a specific deadline or framework for such a by-election and that the issue will be discussed at the next CSC meeting on December 14.
"We will submit a schedule and draft procedure for her approval," Cheng said.
As yet, no candidates have surfaced for the position.
In addition, Presidential Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), who is widely mentioned as a possible candidate to become the next DPP chairman, said that the re-examination "was honest and thoroughgoing."
He related that the intense discussion showed that after the defeat, "the DPP Central Standing committee is frankly facing the problems and will boldly re-examine