DPP to vote on Chen’s poll plan for nomination

The China Post staff

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s central executive council is expected to meet today to vote on President Chen Shui-bian’s plan for in-house polls to pick its standard bearer for 2008. “We’ll have to put it to a vote,” DPP lawmaker Wang Hsin-nan said yesterday. There is opposition to the Chen plan, said Wang, the ruling party’s legislative caucus whip.

Two members of the executive council, Vice President Annette Lu and DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun, had not been told of the plan in advance and did not endorse it. Another executive council member said he was deceived into endorsing the plan. Huang Ching-lin blasted Chiu I-jen, President Chen’s secretary-general, for lying to him all council members had already endorsed it. “That’s a lie,” Huang said. “But I signed my name, thinking that I had to go along,” he added, “and much later I was told Lu and Yu didn’t know anything about that plan.” Other council members believe the Chen plan to pick the 2008 ticket may not be passed easily. “It’s 50-50,” said one heavyweight lawmaker who sits on the executive council. There are altogether 15 council members. President Chen finalized his plan Monday and let Chiu collect signatures of council members for endorsement. In fact, only 11 signatures were collected. Under the plan, 70 percent of the respondents who fill in the questionnaire will be considered “electors” of the DPP candidate for president. They include DPP supporters and middle-of-the roaders. All respondents will be required to answer if they support what is known as the “pan-green” alliance. The DPP and its ally Taiwan Solidarity Union form the bloc. About 20 percent of the respondents will say they are supporters, organizers of the poll estimate. Those who support the “pan-blue” bloc — the Kuomintang, the People First Party and the New Party — are estimated to account for 30 percent of the respondents. These 30 percent of the respondents are excluded from the tabulation of “ballots” for the four DPP presidential aspirants. The remaining 50 percent are considered middle-of-the roaders, whose votes will be deemed valid for the selection of the nominee. According to the Chen plan, the most favored candidate will run for president, with the runner-up as his running mate. The four hopefuls are, aside from Lu and Yu, Premier Su Tseng-chang and his predecessor Frank Hsieh, who are frontrunners. That is the reason why Su and Hsieh endorsed the Chen plan at once. Yu said he would go along, if the executive council adopts it. Annette Lu is holding out, however. Like Yu, she may have to acquiesce, if the plan is passed. Chen wants the ruling party to do without the primary, which will be divisive. A party divided is not going to win the presidential race scheduled for March next year. “We are certain,” one top Chen aide said, “the president has successfully mediated the dispute among the four candidates.” All candidates are convinced that the Chen plan may be the only way to prevent a lingering feud that will ruin the party’s chances to stay in power after 2008.