Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) yesterday emerged as the only candidate qualified to run in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential primary after obtaining the necessary number of signatures from KMT members.
A screening committee announced that Hung had obtained 35,210 valid endorsements from registered members, surpassing the 15,000 threshold.
Former Department of Health minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良), the only other person to file registration papers, obtained only 5,234 valid signatures, failing to meet the requirement, the committee said.
Hung had submitted more than 60,000 signatures and Yaung more than 30,000, but many of them were disqualified for various reasons, the committee said.
According to the KMT’s primary regulations, Hung must next face a public opinion poll, and would be required to garner the support of at least 30 percent of respondents.
The KMT has yet to decide how to conduct the poll, but one of the likely options is to ask respondents to choose between Hung and Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Should Hung fall short of the 30 percent threshold, the party might opt to draft another candidate to run.
While KMT Nomination and Review Committee convener Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the method and timing of the poll required further discussion, Hung urged the party to hurry, as the earlier the KMT knows in which direction it is heading, the more time it has to prepare its candidate.
Hung said that she believed she would ultimately be the party’s choice, adding that she would “take the responsibility, work hard and win [the election.]”
Meanwhile, Yaung announced that he was dropping his bid.
He said he wished Hung the best and hoped she exceeded the 30 percent threshold, adding that he would not consider running for a legislator or legislator-at-large post in the January elections.
In response to concern that the KMT would lack a strong vice presidential candidate, KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said that the party’s core interests were the same as Yaung’s — “distributive justice” — adding that the party’s nomination would adhere to its internal policies.
The only KMT members who appear to be somewhat competitive with Tsai in opinion polls — Chu and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) — have said they would not enter the presidential race.
The KMT is the underdog heading into the January elections, hurt by its disastrous showing in the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 29 last year and the dismal approval ratings for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, which have dropped to about 20 percent.
Additional reporting by Lee Ya-wen and Chiu Yen-ling