DPP Democratic Progressive Party
The Democratic Progressive Party, formed on September 28, 1986, now has approximately 420,000 members. The party's organizational structure consists of a National Congress that elects 30 members to the Central Executive Committee and 11 members to the Central Review Committee. The Central Executive Committee, in turn, elects the 10 members of the Central Standing Committee. The members of these committees all serve two-year terms.
Previously, the National Congress elected the party chairman. However, the second plenary meeting of the DPP's Seventh National Congress, held in September 1997, adopted a provision that the chairman be directly elected by party members. The chairman appoints a secretary-general, one or two deputy secretaries-general, and a number of department directors. Chang Chun-hsiung is the current secretary-general of the DPP.
At an extraordinary session of the National Congress held April 20, 2002, the DPP adopted a proposal stipulating that the president double as chairman whenever the party is in power. When it is not, the chairman will be directly elected by all party members. In addition, the April 20 congress created positions for up to three vice chairmen.
The nomination process for DPP candidates has been more open compared to that of the KMT, but it has also been changed more frequently. At the DPP's Sixth National Congress, held in April and May of 1994, a two-tier primary system was initiated in which ordinary members of the DPP voted for candidates in one primary election and party cadres voted in a second primary. The results of the two elections were combined, with equal weight given to each.
At the second plenary meeting of the Sixth National Congress held in March 1995, the nomination process for the presidential and gubernatorial candidates was modified to add open primaries for DPP members and non-members alike. It was also decided that candidate slots on the party's list of national constituency representatives for the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly be allocated equally among three groups: (1) scholars and experts, (2) representatives of disadvantaged groups, and (3) politicians.
At the Seventh National Congress held in June 1996, additional changes were made to the nomination process. It was decided that the primary reserved for the party leadership would be abolished. A two-stage process, involving a closed primary for party members and an open primary for all eligible voters, with each given equal weight, would be used to nominate candidates for president, provincial governor, special municipality mayors, county magistrates, provincial municipality mayors, Legislative Yuan members, National Assembly members, and special municipal councilmen. However, this procedure was repealed at the provisional meeting of the Seventh National Congress held in December 1996. The second stage, an open primary for all eligible voters, was replaced by opinion polls. It was further decided at the meeting that the party chairman be elected directly by all members of the party starting in 1998.
At the second meeting of the Eighth National Congress held in May 1999, a special rule was adopted for the 2000 presidential election: A qualified candidate must be recommended by more than 40 party leaders, and if there is only one such candidate, the National Congress must be convened to ratify the nomination by a three-fifths majority. At the provisional meeting of the National Congress in July, former Taipei City Mayor Chen Shui-bian was officially nominated to represent the DPP in the 2000 presidential election.
Perhaps what most distinguishes the DPP from the KMT, the People First Party, and the New Party is its inclination toward Taiwan independence, or the permanent political separation of Taiwan from China. However, recently, the DPP leadership has tried to downplay the party's independence theme in an attempt to broaden voter support. At the Eighth National Congress in 1999, the DPP ratified a resolution stipulating that:
- Taiwan is a sovereign state, whose official name is the Republic of China.
- Any change of Taiwan's status quo should first require a plebiscite.
- Taiwan is not part of the People's Republic of China, and the so-called "one country, two systems" or "one China" declaration unilaterally declared by the PRC falls short of the interests of the people of Taiwan.
- Taiwan and China should seek to establish perpetual peace by building up a communication mechanism based on mutual understanding and consensus through dialogue across the Taiwan Strait.
Downplaying the independence theme has led to dissatisfaction among the more radical advocates of Taiwan independence. Several of these disaffected DPP members left the party and later established the Taiwan Independence Party (TAIP).
At the second meeting of the DPP's Ninth National Congress held in October 2001, party members passed a motion that any resolutions adopted in response to major government policies should be considered equivalent to the party platform. In addition, the national congress also approved a resolution acknowledging the importance of trade liberalization with China and stressing the party's determination to improve the national economy.
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