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Chen resigns as DPP chief after poll setback
Updated: 2004-12-14 18:00

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian resigned as leader of the Democratic Progressive Party, taking the blame for last weekend's "parliamentary" election defeat.

Chen stepped down at the first meeting of the party's Central Standing Committee since Saturday's legislative polls.

"A-bian (Chen's nickname) here wants to voice my deep apology to the supporters, party members and those candidates who have unfortunately lost in the election," he read from a statement prepared in advance.

And "in order to take full responsibility, I have tendered my resignation to the party's Central Standing Committee."

His pro-independence Pan Green alliance won 101 seats in Saturday's election, fewer than the 113 he had vowed to obtain.

Although the result was an increase of one seat over the 100 previously held by Chen's alliance, he said after the vote that the outcome was "too far away from our expectations before the vote."

Chen's popularity has fallen to a record low of 34 percent after the defeat of his alliance in the elections, a survey released Monday said.

The United Daily News newspaper asked voters: "Are you satisfied with Chen shui-bian?"

Thirty-four percent said "yes," while 51 percent said "no," and the rest had no comment, according to the survey taken on Sunday.

Chen's previous low was 36 percent in November 2002 and his peak approval rating of 79 percent came in June 2000, a month after his inauguration as "president".

His victory in the 2000 election ended the Kuomintang's (KMT) 51-year grip on power.

Chen continued with his success when the DPP for the first time became the island's biggest political party in the legislative election three years ago.

DPP secretary general Chang Chun-hsiung and two deputy secretary generals also resigned to pave the way for the party's reshuffle.

Senior parliamentarian Ke Chien-ming will serve as acting chairman before the leadership is elected directly by party members three months later.

Critics within his party had accused Chen of heeding the views of their Taiwan Solidarity Union ally, which called for changing the island's name from the official title of the Republic of China to Taiwan.

Chen had pledged to alter the names of Taiwan's missions abroad and government-run enterprises within the next two years.

His remarks sparked a warning from the United States, which is still the island's major ally and its largest arms supplier, not to unilaterally change Taiwan's status.

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