Wed, Nov 11, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Ma-Xi meet won’t help the KMT in Jan. 16 poll

By Chen Mao-hsiung 陳茂雄

The meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was not arranged to salvage the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) electoral prospects, but for the sake of Ma’s place in history. He is only concerned about himself, not his party, otherwise he could easily improve the KMT’s prospects by putting an end to its infighting.

As to whether the Ma-Xi meeting can turn the KMT’s electoral prospects around, the answer is no.

If the reason for the pan-blue camp’s poor electoral prospects was the Chinese military threat, of course a meeting between Ma and Xi would be a great way to set people’s minds at ease. However, the electoral outlook is a result of other factors.

Before the 2012 presidential election, opinion polls rated Ma’s popularity so low that it broke the records set by all previous presidents, but when the votes were cast Ma was re-elected and the KMT also won an outright victory in the legislature. That was because the crisis facing the party prompted the mobilization of “vote captains” to persuade people to vote for the KMT.

Last year’s nine-in-one elections were local in nature, with the leading role played by local factions, for whom party splits are not a problem.

The problem they did face was that the vote captains could not get people to vote for the KMT. Voters are becoming more autonomous, with many first-time voters not letting themselves be directed by vote captains.

However, this factor should only cause the KMT to weaken gradually, while the nine-in-one elections saw the party’s support brought to the verge of collapse. There must have been some other significant factor involved.

The biggest factor was that Ma’s regime has been stoking up ethnic tensions. Since the KMT is largely under the control of Mainlanders, who are a minority among the population, it is difficult for the party to get back on its feet. The pan-blue camp needs to think carefully about why such tensions have arisen.

When Ma was persecuting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), he said it was a matter of right and wrong, and that Wang’s alleged use of improper influence was “shameful.”

However, most people did not see it that way. On the contrary, opinion polls showed that Wang was the most popular figure in the pan-blue camp. Even more seriously, the public felt that Ma was persecuting Wang because of “prejudice.”

Former premier Hau Pei-tsun’s (郝柏村) remark in the run-up to the nine-in-one elections that Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who was running for Taipei mayor, was a “descendant of imperialist subjects” was even more off-putting for Taiwanese.

This kind of confrontation, which had already made its presence felt before last year’s elections, has gotten even worse this year. Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu’s (洪秀柱) replacement by KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) as the KMT’s presidential candidate clearly had nothing to do with Wang, yet some pro-unification people reacted by shouting: “Down with Wang Jin-pyng.”

Tai Po-te (戴伯特), director of the KMT’s Huang Fu-hsing military veterans branch, insulted Wang over the issue of the party’s at-large legislative candidate list. Added together, these issues are sufficient to make Taiwanese boycott these forces, which originate outside Taiwan.

The reason the KMT is on the brink of collapse is the emergence of confrontation, and the Ma-Xi meeting only further deepens the rifts. As a result, the party will not gain points from the meeting, but it will definitely lose some.

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