Sean Lien (連勝文), son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), is widely seen as a rising star on the political stage, but his ascendancy has been interpreted in some quarters as signaling the emergence of a “crown prince party.”
The term, which originated in China, is an informal and often derogatory categorization of “princelings” who benefit from nepotism and cronyism.
On Saturday, after a fierce battle against his main competitor, veteran Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), Sean Lien emerged as the KMT’s candidate for the Taipei mayoral election as he finished with a comfortable lead in the public poll and the party member vote, which together comprised the KMT primary.
Lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄), an aspirant in the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) primary, said he is worried that a “crown prince party” is emerging, similar in style to the situation in China, where the sons and daughters of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders are elevated to positions of power.
The 44-year-old’s victory in the KMT’s primary in Taipei raises the possibility of Chinese cronyism being replicated in Taiwan, Koo said.
It is “disturbing” that Sean Lien so easily beat the 59-year-old Ting by using his father’s political background and financial standing, Koo said.
The DPP said Sean Lien’s victory was a setback for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who supported Ting in the primary and who is KMT chairman.
DPP spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said that the Taipei election later in the year would be a battle between “Chinese-style cronyism” and “new citizen civicism.”
Meanwhile, National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who is running for Taipei mayor as an independent, said he was surprised by Sean Lien’s expensive and successful campaign, which included press advertisements.
“It’s the first time I sensed that spending big money in the media could work. We can’t afford that kind of campaigning,” Ko said, adding that he now has to think about how to compete.