Mon, Oct 19, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Ranks of former KMT members might swell

By James Wang 王景弘

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has had a falling out. Party members have been shouting at the top of their lungs in feverish tones, providing a colorful display of the unique “Chinese temperament.”

The old guard has said loud and clear that deposing the KMT’s former presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) would sound the death knell of the party, while KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) acknowledged that the the wrong candidate was chosen in the first place and put himself forward as the only person who could replace Hung.

Chu lauded his conspiracy to oust Hung as “saving the nation and fighting for the survival of the party.”

Hung became of central importance to the party: Removing her would kill the KMT, but keeping her would finish it as well.

A slow disintegration of the KMT has been taking place for some time. Following the nation’s democratization, the KMT has been slowly decomposing, although the process has been somewhat different from the fall of communism in Eastern European countries, when Soviet-backed regimes fell overnight.

Before democratization, the KMT relied on martial law, monopolization of political resources, divide-and-rule tactics against ethnic groups and buying off interest groups to control the nation. After democratization, it started to rely on the stabilizing influence of former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) localization policies, but splits within the party happened nevertheless.

KMT members opposed to Lee left the party, followed by pro-localists who had joined the party holding their noses. Others left due to ideological differences or unequal treatment within the party.

One only needs to look at the seating arrangement of the Double Ten National Day celebrations to see how the KMT has split over the years. Four former KMT politicians, now chairpersons of rival parties, stood together in a single line, alongside Chu as head of the KMT: People First Party Chairman and presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) — who left the KMT to form their own parties — Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) and Republican Party Chairperson Hsu Hsin-ying (徐欣瑩).

However, compared with the previous splits, the KMT is now showing signs of acute disintegration.

During the presidential primaries, many in the party secretly plotted against Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to prevent him from running for president. The party pretended to be following a “democratic” process, but was promoting Hung from behind the scenes — a candidate who was not only woefully unqualified for the job, but also advocating a speedy “eventual unification” with China. This left the localist faction within the party as nothing more than an accessory.

However, no longer willing to be ordered about, it set the wheels in motion to get rid of Hung.

Hung’s supporters within the party are a small, rowdy and colorful bunch, who make a great deal of noise. Those who favored removing Hung were in a strong position, but had limited demands. Chu only needed to satisfy the minimum demands of the localists to be allowed to “save the nation and the party.”

Taiwanese are now to wait and see if Hung’s supporters beat a dignified retreat and quit the party. Come next year’s Double Ten National Day celebrations, there could be further additions to the ranks of former KMT members.

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