Tue, Oct 10, 2017 - Page 8 News List

KMT needs a change of pace, or face invisibility

By Chiu Chou-yuan 邱智淵

In only nine months, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has completed its chairmanship, Central Committee and Central Standing Committee elections, and is about to elect directors of its local chapters.

Looking at this slew of elections, it seems like the KMT has been thoroughly democratized, when in fact these elections were purposeless. They did not make people think that the party was acting on behalf of the public and initiating reform. Instead, it is like a straw man with a body and no soul, unable to stabilize the turbulent political situation.

Opinion polls show that support for the KMT has not only failed to increase, but has fallen. No one views the party as a threat in the 2020 presidential election.

As for the local elections next year, it is difficult to imagine the party achieving any exceptional results except in New Taipei City, where it has a stable support base.

As the once-glorious party drifts aimlessly, disappointed supporters are becoming increasingly indifferent to its performance.

The root of the problem is the power struggle among KMT heavyweights over the past year. They are unable to propose any concrete views or new ideas to promote public welfare, and worse, the party is losing its core ideals and beliefs, but the heavyweights neither care nor try to protect them.

Take for example the election of Central Standing Committee members. It was hard to glean from media reports why the candidates wanted to run in the first place, or why it was significant. The only news that came through was about how candidates kept exchanging support for each other, buying each other big meals, or rumors about vote-buying practices. Many party members did not even know who was running in the election until they saw the results.

What is worse is that among the 32 seats up for grabs, 20 went to incumbents and 12 to new members. This means that new members account for less than 40 percent of the total, many of whom are the same old faces.

Unfortunately, a few candidates, such as KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) — an economist who is not afraid of defending the party’s policies — were not elected, because they were unwilling to join the groups exchanging support with each other. As bad money drives out good money, the election outcome can only make one sigh.

People support a party because of the policies and ideals it holds. A party should be able to adjust its policies and ideals, but it must make sure that the adjustments are based on public support and speaks up for the people. It is a pity that the KMT has been perfunctory or even absent in policymaking over the past year.

Despite public discontent with the Cabinet’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program and the party’s strong start in its criticism, it all came to nothing in the end. When it came to pension reform, the KMT tried to avoid the issue.

As for Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) pro-Taiwan independence statement, it pretended that nothing happened. No wonder China is not pleased with its performance, while Taiwanese are starting to question the value of its continued existence.

The party’s most urgent task is to provide a review of its defeat in last year’s presidential election, which it has been unable to do after nearly two years.

The party needs a change of pace and must make sure that the local chapter director elections do not continue to hurt the party. Otherwise, it might be further marginalized and become even more invisible in next year’s local government elections.

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