Wed, May 03, 2017 - Page 8 News List

The difficulty of dividing the KMT

By Chen Mao-hsiung 陳茂雄

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairperson election is just three weeks away and the six candidates are engaged in fierce competition.

KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu’s (洪秀柱) supporters are adopting a tactical voting strategy by posting poll results in party member chat groups claiming that Hung is leading, while calling on dark-blue supporters to dump KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) as a candidate to secure her victory.

Former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who is also a candidate, has his Internet army playing the division card by posting messages saying that Hung is endorsed by former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) in a bid to alienate Hung from the KMT’s deep-blue Huang Fu-hsing (黃復興) branch, which is hostile to Wang.

These tricks show that the confrontation between the KMT’s pro-Chinese and local factions continues.

Although the Chinese faction is playing a key role, the party must rely on local factions in local elections, because they control the party’s “vote captains,” who remain in close contact with voters.

The problem is that the pro-Chinese faction has a tight hold on the party machinery, even if it means the KMT’s destruction.

Even if the pro-Chinese faction loses the chairperson election, it will continue its efforts and is unlikely to break away and form a new party.

In 1993, during then-president Lee Teng-hui’s (李燈輝) time in office, the New KMT Alliance and pro-unification members withdrew from the KMT to form the New Party.

Not long after the 2000 presidential election, losing candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) formed the People First Party (PFP) with pro-unification members who withdrew from the KMT.

Both the New Party and the PFP were powerful for a while and put significant pressure on the KMT.

However, the KMT’s pro-unification faction is busy fighting for control of the party machinery, so following the New Party’s and the PFP’s lead to form a new party is not an option.

This is a result of the seventh amendment to the Constitution in 2005, which drastically changed the legislative electoral system.

As the political system has in practice become a two-party system, it is difficult for smaller parties to survive.

However, the amendment made it more difficult for the pro-independence camp than it was for the pro-unification camp. Had it not been for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) agreeing not to nominate candidates in some districts, there would have been no room for small parties in the legislative elections and it would have been difficult for them to gain more than three legislator-at-large seats, which would have sharply reduced their influence, as three legislators are required to form a caucus.

Despite a substantial presence on the political map, pro-independence advocates want to guide the DPP, and while the party is careful to make a show of respecting their opinions, it is in practice ignoring them.

After all, how could the members of a weak political movement possibly direct a strong party?

In the end, the independence movement will stagnate and we can only hope that someone will be able to pull it back to reality.

Chen Mao-hsiung is a retired National Sun Yat-sen University professor and chairman of the Society for the Promotion of Taiwanese Security.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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