Tue, Mar 16, 2004 - Page 8 News List

The KMT is in trouble, win or lose

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

This year's presidential election can be described as the greatest battle in 50 years.

The reason I'm saying 50 years and not 400 is that just

over 50 years have passed since Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) army was defeated and had to escape to Taiwan to establish a base from where to retake the mainland, until the 2000 presidential election, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was defeated in a democratic election and had to relinquish its hold on power.

In this year's election, the KMT is attempting a comeback using the slogan "A Second Transfer of Power."

With the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) denouncing it as an attempt at bringing about "The Restoration of the Old Power" while making "A Deepening of Democracy" its own slogan, a blue-green struggle has taken a dramatic new shape.

For the KMT, the transfer of power in 2000 seemed to mean the end of the party and the death of the nation, and this year's presidential election could be thought of as a last effort to support a collapsing structure.

There is a strong sense of crisis within the pan-blue camp, which knows that if it is unable to unite, it only has Chiang's prediction to look forward to: "This retreat leaves us without a resting place."

It was this sense that forced the present cooperation between KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

A Lien-Soong presidential pairing, which used to be considered a mission impossible, was finally achieved. Although the candidates and the KMT and PFP have their own separate designs on power, there is a common wish to recreate the party-state entity.

This is also why the KMT and PFP, as soon as they joined up, dusted off former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), and why Lien and Soong ironed out the "one China" concept, which some call the "one China consensus" and others the "one China roof" framework. They even jointly stressed the need for a "one China constitution," thus displaying the pan-blue camp's very deep sense of crisis concerning the party's continued legitimacy.

Given that pan-blue integration is being carried out out of concern for the continued existence of party and nation, the division of power between Lien and Soong and the power conflicts between the KMT and the PFP have gradually been put aside while awaiting a return to power.

Once that happens, they will begin dividing the territory.

For the DPP, President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) victory in the 2000 presidential election meant that localization forces for the first time had a hold on government power.

Of course, this happened thanks to the split in the KMT, or, rather, thanks to Soong's insistence on snaring the top post, and was also the reason why former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) chalked the win down to fate.

What would the chances have been of the DPP winning power if Soong had been content with standing behind Lien in 2000, as he is today?

The DPP would not have stood a chance, and it would have seriously reduced the possibility of a transfer of power this year or in 2008.

However, following the 2000 election, Lien put pressure on Lee, who gladly stepped down from his post as chairman of the KMT only to found the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) in time for the 2001 legislative elections.

KMT voters supporting Lee shifted their support to the DPP, thereby greatly expanding the green camp's voter base, as was seen in the number of votes it generated in the 2001 legislative elections and the 2002 Kaohsiung mayoral election.

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