Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party should back its version of the cross-strait status quo while taking slow, steady steps to achieve the ultimate goal of independence, a former DPP legislator says. Lee Wen-chung, a DPP moderate, said the party was set to undergo 'internal struggles' on its future direction, but a split was unlikely following Frank Hsieh Chang-ting's defeat to the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou in Saturday's presidential election. 'This time, we even lost in the deep green areas [DPP strongholds]. This shows that achievements by local administrations failed to win the hearts of the voters, who had a bad impression of the whole DPP leadership,' he said. Mr Hsieh's defeat in traditional DPP strongholds - such as Kaohsiung, where he was mayor for seven years, and Tainan - shocked the DPP leadership, who admitted the need for much soul-searching over the party's future. Describing Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian as an opportunist adventurer in pushing for independence, Mr Lee said the DPP's defeat showed the approach it had adopted was mistaken, and slow yet firm steps needed to be taken instead of drastic ones to achieve its goal. 'Of course, we would still work for independence, but to tell you the truth, even if the DPP does nothing, independence will be a natural consequence as time goes by,' he said. 'You see, the first generation of mainlanders who came to Taiwan automatically called themselves Chinese. Then the second generation called themselves both Chinese and Taiwanese. But now you see people no longer call themselves Chinese, but Taiwanese, because it's the place where they were born.' Long regarded as a reform-minded legislator, Mr Lee and fellow DPP lawmaker Lin Cho-shui quit the legislature on November 14, 2006, after eight years. The pair stepped down in protest against the party leadership's decision to rally behind Mr Chen after the indictment of the president's wife, Wu Shu-chen. They had asked the DPP leadership to deal with the president's case in accordance with party rules, which stipulate that party membership should be suspended if a member is indicted. Mr Lee said the defeat in the presidential election stemmed from the DPP's 'abuse of Taiwanese identity' and the failure of supporters or the leadership to criticise Mr Chen even though his administration was embroiled in corruption allegations and he always 'talked nonsense'. The DPP was founded in 1986 to push for democratisation in the fight against the authoritarian rule of the KMT, which imposed martial law shortly after its retreat to Taiwan after losing a civil war to the Communists in 1949. Martial law was withdrawn in 1987 because of huge political and public opposition. 'Whenever there's an election, the DPP has often challenged its opponents over whether they truly loved Taiwan,' Mr Lee said. 'For those who voted for Ma Ying-jeou, they would feel that not only Ma, but also they themselves were under scrutiny as to whether they loved Taiwan. 'This not only triggered the big fightback by the blue camp [the KMT and its allies], but also turned some independent voters away.'