Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday stated that the new chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party, to be elected by party members on Sunday, needed to possess sufficient vision and understanding of the public's will to spur the revitalization of the governing party.
In her capacity as interim DPP chairwoman, Lu told reporters at an afternoon tea party at the DPP headquarters in Taipei City that she had been reluctant to take up the mantle of interim DPP chairwoman in the wake of the party's setback in the December 3 local elections and recalled that there had been a "storm" over her decision to accept the post on December 7.
But the vice president said that the controversy had passed and was now "meaningless," especially since she would relinquish the post on February 5 to the new DPP chairperson elected Sunday.
Over 230,000 DPP members are eligible to vote, about 30-40 percent of which are expected to cast ballots.
The three contenders include former residential secretary-general Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), former DPP Changhua County magistrate Weng Chin-chu; and, DPP Legislator Trong Chai (蔡同榮).
The vice president refused to be directly drawn into an endorsement of the three candidates, all of whom she described as "outstanding," while acknowledging that each contender had distinct experiences and views and would bring a "different style of leadership" to the party.
Lu said that "some contenders have creativity and independence and can take steps forward, some have grown up in the same framework and can be cautious; and some have entirely no experience and there are questions regarding their capacity to take the burden of responsibility."
"Party members must consider that the DPP is already a governing party and if it is to have sustainable governance and sustainable development, it must have a broad vision, grasp the will of the people and deeply understand the thinking at a grassroots level" and to be able to deal with the challenges posed by a hostile China and globalization, Lu said.
Lu said that the new party chairperson would face the tasks of preparing for the upcoming Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections and especially the late 2007 legislative polls which will feature dual ballots for single-seat constituencies and at-large party proportional representation. The vice president declared that the DPP "absolutely cannot discount" its upholding of Taiwan sovereignty and must also realize "democracy and progress" in a clean and capable administration if it is to have sustainable development.
Regarding the controversial issue of the relationship between the governing party and the government under President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Lu indicated that the complete integration of the governing party and the government would "violate the constitutional framework," which she characterized as a "dual executive system which leans towards a presidential system."
Lu noted that although the DPP is currently the governing party, the directly-elected president is responsible for guiding policy on national security and defense and external affairs, including Taiwan China relations, and asked whether it would be feasible for the president to report to the party on issues that involved national security secrets or sensitive national defense issues.
"The involvement of the party chairperson in matters that fall under the scope of presidential powers would be inappropriate," Lu stated.