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”.
State media warn Taiwan’s resurgent opposition not to see its local election rout of the governing pro-Beijing Kuomintang (KMT) party as a mandate to push for independence. Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has announced he is stepping down as KMT party chairman in response to the defeat, which was widely seen on the island as a rejection of his party’s push for closer ties with Beijing. An article in the official party paper, the People’s Daily, warns the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to “discard fantasies” about achieving formal independence. “As China’s might and influence expand internationally, it will have more say in the cross-strait ties,” Taiwan analyst Ni Yongjie tells the paper. “It will be difficult for any political forces in Taiwan to resist the peaceful development of the relationship.” China Daily lays the blame for Mr Ma’s defeat squarely on his domestic policies, denying any link to his pro-Beijing stance. But it acknowledges that with fewer than two years left of Mr Ma’s term in office, the KMT’s loss will add “uncertainty” to ties with Beijing, and could create “major difficulties in producing more ground-breaking achievements”.
Taiwan: President Ma expected to quit as KMT chairman as Premier Jiang and 80 in Cabinet resign | South China Morning Post
Premier Dr Jiang Yi-huah led 80 members of his Cabinet to resign en masse this morning following the humiliating defeat of the ruling Kuomintang in Saturday’s local elections. Taiwan’s Vice-President Wu Den-yih then offered his resignation as vice-chairman of the KMT to President Ma Ying-jeou, who is chairman of the KMT. “Vice-chairman Wu Den-yih tendered his resignation to chairman Ma this morning,” Wu’s office said in a text message to journalists. However, it was not immediately known whether Ma had accepted his resignation as the deputy head of the ruling party. Yesterday party officials said that Ma was also expected to resign as chairman of the KMT following the defeat. Jiang had resigned on Saturday in order to assume responsibility for the KMT’s worst electoral setback since coming to power in 1949. A caretaker administration would remain in office until after President Ma appointed a new Cabinet head, Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun said.
Taiwanese vote this weekend in local elections that are being watched by China for signs the ruling party it prefers to deal with is losing its political grip. In Saturday’s polls for mayors, town councilors, village chiefs and other local positions, political watchers are focusing on the bigger cities, particularly the capital, Taipei, and the central city of Taichung. The cities are usually strongholds for the ruling Nationalist Party, but pollsters put the party, also known as the Kuomintang, or KMT, on shaky ground. A drubbing would position the KMT badly for holding on to the presidency when President Ma Ying-jeou stands down in 2016 and would boost the chances of the opposition, some analysts said.
Taiwan goes to the polls on Saturday to choose city mayors and local councillors in a vote that will show how much support the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) has lost with its pro-China stance less than two years before a presidential election. The election will be the first chance for the island, which giant neighbor China views as a breakaway province, to make its views known since March when thousands of young people occupied parliament in an unprecedented protest against a planned trade pact calling for closer ties with Beijing. A record 11,130 seats are up for grabs in municipalities, counties, townships and villages, with the key battleground the capital, a KMT, or Nationalist Party, stronghold for nearly 20 years. Every Taiwan president was once the mayor of Taipei.