The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), in the runup to the 19th Central Standing Committee election on Sept. 7, is seeing a resurgence of local factions vying to get onto the committee in hopes of getting a better chance at influencing party politics in a post-President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) era.
Since the 2008 presidential election, the KMT under Ma has been slowly distancing itself from factions, which had been one of the primary reasons the KMT was equated with political corruption. The shift caused a rift between the party and local factions.
A source within the party said that of the 46 candidates nominated for the Central Standing Committee, 19 were from the former “60 alliance” that has been dominating the party’s Central Committee elections. The source added that if all 19 were elected, they would form a majority in the 32-person Central Standing Committee.
The “60 alliance” refers specifically to how six Central Committee candidates work together to gain votes, with each offering 10 party representative votes for their particular “group” — so managing to stay in the committee.
However, the source also said that since the Central Standing Committee seats were far fewer than those of the Central Committee — the Central Standing Committee annually has 32 seats up for grabs, with seven members appointed directly by the president to bring the total to 39, while the central committee offers 210 seats — the “60 alliance” has shrunk to become a “30 alliance.”
The smaller alliance consists of 30 people, including former “60 alliance” members and other Central Standing Committee candidates, the source said, adding that when working in three-man groups and with each individual responsible for procuring 10 representative votes, the smaller alliance could muster up to 300 votes in total.
One of the current Central Standing Committee members said that in comparison with past elections, next month’s election was being fiercely contested. The member added that some of the [candidates] have great [local] political clout, others are great at collecting votes and others had fat bank balances.
Some of the current committee members are feeling a lot of pressure, the member said.
Meanwhile, one of the local factions that is making the most overt moves is the Chang family (張) of Yunlin County.
Aside from the first-time Central Committee candidacy of former Yunlin County commissioner Chang Jung-wei’s (張榮味) daughter Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡), other pro-Chang candidates have also announced their candidacy in the upcoming election.
They are National Fishermen’s Association Taiwan general manager Lin Chi-chang’s (林啟滄) wife, Hsu Yu-chen (許宇甄); Taiwan Joint Irrigation Association deputy chairman Lin Wen-jui (林文瑞) and Chinese National Association of General Contractors president Pan Chun-jung (潘俊榮).
The sources said all these candidates were elected Central Committee members with high numbers of votes and it would not be surprising if they were all elected into the central standing committee.
The source said that since Chang Jung-wei’s sister, Chang Li-shan (張麗善), dropped out of the Yunlin county commissioner election in 2009, the Chang faction had been gradually distancing itself from the KMT under Ma’s leadership.
The source said it suspected that with Chang Li-shan about to make a comeback in the seven-in-one elections next year, along with a power shift that is expected to occur in the 19th Central Standing Committee election, the Changs want to start paving their way toward the post-Ma political era.