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.
Taiwan’s governing party has called a special congress to consider the drastic step of dropping its unpopular presidential candidate just three months before an election that will set the tone for all-important relations with Beijing. In a rare race between two female leading contenders, Hung Hsiu-chu, a straight-talking legislator from the ruling Kuomintang or Nationalist party, has fallen more than 20 percentage points behind the frontrunner, opposition politician Tsai Ing-wen. The KMT, which has ruled Taiwan for much of the period since it fled mainland China after losing the civil war with the Communists in 1949, decided on Wednesday it would hold the extraordinary meeting to “gather consensus and unite for victory”.
Taiwan has the kind of democracy that gives you goose bumps. Throughout its history the little island has been squashed and shaped by the closest super-power, China. Beijing continues to claim sovereignty over Taiwan and seems to view it as a renegade sibling that will inevitably be subsumed. If Taiwan should at some point officially declare independence, China has refused to rule out military intervention. Despite that, since 1996 the plucky Taiwanese have been electing their own leaders. Election turnout is consistently around 75 per cent. Here, democracy really matters. This year the Taiwanese are preparing to use their votes to do something extraordinary. No matter who wins, the next president is almost certain to be a woman. The election is a two horse race between the ruling Kuomintang party (KMT) and the opposition Democratic Progression Party (DPP). Both have nominated women candidates.
Taiwan is poised to elect its first female leader after the two largest political parties nominated women to contest next January’s presidential election. Hung Hsiu-chu, 67, a former teacher whose fiery style has earned her the nickname “Little Hot Pepper”, was officially selected on Sunday as the candidate for the ruling Nationalist party (KMT). She will compete against Tsai Ing-wen, 58, the candidate nominated by the opposition Democratic Progressive party (DPP) in April. Tsai, currently the party’s chairwoman, is a trained lawyer who studied at Cornell University and the London School of Economics before forging a career in academia and politics back home.