Yesterday, the DPP Central Standing Committee discussed party constitution amendment.
According to the party charter, a DPP president can double as the party chairperson. Therefore, the party constitution research and editing team did not propose any amedment in this respect and there was no need to discuss this issue. However, because the team recommended the removal of the Vice-President, the Premier and the Secretary General of the Presidential Office from the Central Standing Committee membership, concerns were then raised – If the president is not the party leader, the link between the administration and the party will be completely severed. As such, the team recommended that Tsai Ing-wen consider staying on as the party chairperson to synchronise the work of the administration and that of the party and avoid any negative sequela from the amendment. This then instigated the discussion in the Committee meeting.
The president holding a dual role has been adopted and debated within the DPP. There are pros and cons in practice. The advantage is the synchronicity between the administration and the party, the ease of communication and negotiation, efficiency and reduction in clashes between the administration and the party. The disadvantage is the possibility of power expansion and weakened checks and balances in the constitutional order. In the Ma-Wang strife in 2013, Ma Ying-jeou instigated the amendment of the KMT party charter, stipulating that the president must be the party chairperson. The public generally considered it a way to suppress the Speaker’s power. I expressed my concern about such abuse of power at the time.
In our committee discussion yesterday, we took into account the fact that the DPP Speaker has become neutral and withdrawn from all official party roles and responsibilities. In conjunction with the removal of the Vice-President, the Premier and the Secretary General of the Presidential Office from the DPP Central Standing Committee, the President’s power will be more limited than before if s/he doubles as the party leader.
A new president with a lot of election promises to fullfil but without party leadership may run into difficulties in the party-administration communications. This runs counter to public expectations. Therefore, I showed my support from the stand point of faster party-administration coordination and more effective implementation of policies in the manifestos.
Some people think that I have been inconsistent on this issue. I believe that the latest party charter amendment has measures built in to avoid the centralisation or expansion of power and implementing policies in the manifestos is more important at this stage. However, I acknowledge that this is subject to which perspective one takes and will accept all feedback.