Mon, Sep 05, 2016 - Page 3 News List

KMT to allow direct votes for local branch directors

INTERNAL REFORM:Some senior officials were against amending the KMT charter, but there was a grassroots push for the measure, which will require some regulations

By Shih Hsiao-kuang and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) representatives yesterday attend the party’s national congress at Zhongshan Hall on Yangmingshan in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) national congress yesterday passed an amendment to the party’s charter to allow members to directly vote for local branch directors, an amendment seen by some as aiming to weaken the party chair’s hold on power.

Local branch directors had previously been appointed by the head of the party.

Under the amendment to Article 26 of the charter, local branches will be able to elect their own directors, though the party leadership will retain the authority to appoint deputy directors and to ratify local appraisal committee members.

The KMT now has two months to form a committee to implement the changes that were outlined in the local branch amendment.

In line with the amendment, the party could hold combined elections in August next year for its chairperson, local directors and party representatives, which would be a first since the KMT’s founding more than 100 years ago.

In her closing remarks to the congress, which was held at Zhongshan Hall on Yangmingshan in Taipei, KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said she supports any change that can expand membership and connect the party’s leadership with its grassroots constituents.

The KMT will move forward as quickly as possible by forming a task force to comprehensively investigate the qualifications, lengths of terms and fulfillment of obligations to central party leadership of local director candidates, so that direct elections can take place as soon as possible, she said.

However, reform does not “succeed on the first try,” she said.

“The Democratic Progressive Party allows its members to directly elect their local leadership, but it goes without saying whether they are biased or able to grasp society’s wishes, or what the public’s opinion of them is,” Hung said.

She said that she will try to “rebuild the party from ruins” by starting with “a perfect plan of action.”

Hung said she hopes passage of the amendment will not be seen as a victory by former vice president Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who has voiced interest in entering the chairmanship race next year.

The KMT congress, the first held since the party’s bruising defeat in the January presidential and legislative elections, was attended by several former party chairmen, including former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄) and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫).

Wu Den-yih and KMT Legislator Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), the former legislative speaker, also attended the one-day congress.

Initially, some senior party officials were opposed to amending the charter, but calls for reform were growing among grassroots members and they eventually ceded.

A KMT official who declined to be named said the party will meet with local branch officials in the coming days to discuss how to implement elections.

A regulation must be drafted for the regulation of the elections, and the Regulations Governing the Organization of Municipal and County Committees of the Chinese Nationalist Party (中國國民黨直轄市、縣[市]委員會組織規程) must be revised, the official said.

The regulations must be changed to reflect that branch directors will now be chosen through election, and that the KMT central leadership will retain the authority to appoint deputy directors and ratify local appraisal committee members, with the requirement that appointments must be made within a year of ratification.

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