In an emergency congress convened on Friday, Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT) ousted Hung Hsiu-chu from its presidential ticket and formally endorsed Party Chairman Eric Chu for January’s presidential election. Ms. Hung, vice president of the legislature, suffered from low opinion polls and an ever-widening gap with the opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who was ahead by nearly 30 percentage points in September. Ms. Hung’s strongly China-leaning policy turned off voters and risked undermining the KMT effort to retain control of the legislature, which the party has held for more than a decade. Mr. Chu, a popular centrist figure, should improve the fortunes of the KMT’s legislative candidates. At 54 he is relatively young, with a reputation for clean government and focusing on economic development. He is currently the mayor of New Taipei City, which he was re-elected to last year in a tight race.
Yet the messy and public effort to force out Ms. Hung has angered many of her vocal supporters, who are vowing not to vote at all. The candidate switch reveals a party with deep internal rifts, and it remains to be seen whether Mr. Chu can reshape the KMT campaign and solicit mainstream support.
His candidacy will now increase pressure on the DPP, which has widened its goals to include winning the legislature. Mr. Chu said Saturday that it would be a disaster for the KMT to lose its majority, which would require dropping to 57 seats from 65 today. He even suggested the KMT could hold only one-third of the legislative seats, a sign of how acute the party’s troubles have become.
Full Article: Taiwan’s Election Drama Is a Message to Beijing – WSJ.