Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - Page 8 News List

KMT is not relying on Hung votes

By Jerome Keating

Next year’s presidential and legislative elections are not only gaining in excitement, but they are also proving to be what may be a defining moment in the history of Taiwan’s democracy, especially if two women become the primary candidates for president.

On the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) side, that party, in an unusual demonstration of unity, had little trouble in selecting its candidate. DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was chosen and she quickly established her game plan. With good preparation and attention to detail she paid a visit to Taiwan’s major ally, the US, to clarify her platform with concerned parties there. Her campaign is off and running.

On the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) side, the opposite is happening. When that party’s primary was held, the traditional heavyweights held back seemingly from what is now termed “hesitation and/or cowardice.” This presented an embarrassing situation for the party that traces its roots to 1911. It was as if the KMT held a primary and no one chose to attend. Deputy legislative speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) stepped up and became the only person to get the required number of signatures and voting percentage to qualify as a candidate.

For all appearances that would seem the stage is set for the coming election, with two women running for the presidency, but has it been?

The final approval comes in next month and the KMT finds itself in a ticklish situation. How much or how badly does it want the “little chili pepper” (小辣椒, as Hung is sometimes called) as its candidate?

Disaster lurks in the wings. Is she a candidate that can unite all behind her or a candidate by default?

Disastrous comparisons arise. In the 1972 US elections, George McGovern, through an odd series of circumstances and intrigue, including his being chairman of the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate System, became the candidate for the Democratic Party, only to lead that party to one of its worst defeats in its history.

In more recent US elections, the selection of Sarah Palin as the vice presidential running mate of John McCain in 2008 was a disaster of a different making. Hung is as outspoken as Palin, and like Palin she appeals to only a small demographic. Hung, like Palin, is also not used to the scrutiny of a long run at the national level.

Hung thus far does not have full party endorsement; that can not happen until next month. This puts the KMT under pressure: It has a chance to reject her, but it also would have to pay the price of intimating a suspected back-room deal. If Hung were fully endorsed by the KMT, who would be her running mate?

No heavyweight would accept that role. This again raises the comparison with George McGovern who had difficulty getting a running mate after party heavy-weights rejected the position. Hung has intimated that her running mate should be younger and one who holds the same views. What nondescript person would that be?

Hard ideological questions are bound to arise on the campaign trail. Hung has already made the bold remark that independence for Taiwan is out of the question because it is not part of the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution. Such an appeal to the Constitution is a two-edged sword. Opponents could easily counter that Mongolia voted for independence in a referendum in 1945, yet the 1947 Constitution states that Mongolia is a part of the ROC. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) accepted Mongolia’s independence with its Constitution in 1949 and Mongolia now has a seat in the UN and the ROC does not. How would Hung explain that?

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