DPP: Defeat a major setback
The China Post staff Sunday, December 4, 2005, 12:00 am TWN
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday humbly accepted a humiliating defeat in the hotly contested local elections but promised to adopt more policies conforming the people's needs.
Among the 23 major races covering 18 counties and five provincial cities, the DPP took just six seats or less than half of the 14 seats won by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).
When including the two frontline islands of Kinmen and Matsu under the jurisdiction of the Fujian Provincial Government and the pro-KMT Taitung County, the opposition "pan-blue alliance" led by the KMT controls 17 seats, compared with the six seats by the "pan-green alliance" led by the DPP.
The party lost the Taipei County chief race, the top prize in the elections and the most populous administrative district in Taiwan, to allow KMT candidate Chou Shi-wei to retake the seat after 16 years.
DPP candidate Luo Wen-jia, handpicked by President Chen, was beaten by an unexpected wide margin of almost 190,000 votes.
DPP candidates also suffered shocking debacles in races of Ilan County in the north, Chiayi City in the south plus other DPP strongholds like Changhua and Nantou counties in central Taiwan.
Both Ilan and Chiayi have long been dubbed by the DPP as the "hallow democratic grounds" in Taiwan because both seats were long held by anti-KMT candidates.
The party already ruled Ilan County for 24 years. But its candidate, former Justice Minister Chen Ding-nan who already served two terms as county chief in the past, was unable to get hold of the seat.
Both President Chen and Vice President Annette Lu refrained from making any public statements on the election outcome.
But DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang lived up to his promise of stepping down if the party either lost Taipei County or failed to win 10 out of the 23 seats. Su said he solely took the responsibility for the defeat and will resign as he promised on the eve of the elections.
The election results were a severe warning sent by Taiwan people to the DPP, Su said.
He said the party should humbly accept the outcome, modestly face it, honestly reflect, and bravely push new reforms.
Su also pointed out that the DPP will continue sticking to the long road of democratization in Taiwan.
In view of the high demands from Taiwan voters, Su said, DPP and government officials must not make any errors while the administration and the party must not admit people with questionable integrity.
Presidential Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun, who formerly served as Ilan County chief, failed to help Chen Ding-nan keep Ilan County in the hands of the DPP.
He acknowledged that the results show the "people's disappointment and dissatisfaction" with the ruling party in spite of the all-out campaign efforts by President Chen, party leaders, and top government officials.
This called for a thorough review and reflection, he said.
Yu expressed his admiration for Chairman Su who wanted to take the full responsibility for the defeat.
He also stressed that confidence that the DPP will be able to present better policies that are closer to the public opinions in the future under the leadership of President Chen and Premier Frank Hsieh.
Premier Hsieh said both the party and the government should conduct sweeping reviews, including administrative policies and the candidate nomination system, so that the DPP can embark on a fresh start.
He apologized to supporters in his capacity as the chairman of the DPP campaign committee for the defeat and his inability to help the party's candidate to win the Penghu County chief race.
Hsieh's assigned role was to coordinate the overall campaigns and provide special assistance to candidates in certain districts, including the offshore Penghu County.
He urged all party members and supporters not to lose faith because of the election defeat.