Academics and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials yesterday pointed to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong as a major factor leading to the party’s poor performance in yesterday’s presidential election.
Commenting on the number of Nantou County residents who voted for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who was running for re-election, KMT Nantou chapter director Yang Li-chuan (楊麗川) said that the DPP injected a sense of urgency regarding the nation’s sovereignty into the campaign through its response to the Hong Kong protests.
“Voters in central Taiwan, truly afraid that the nation would become a second Hong Kong, turned toward Tsai,” Yang said, adding that this was the main reason for Tsai’s victory, as pan-blue and pan-green supporters largely voted along party lines, as expected.
National Cheng Kung University political science professor Hung Chin-fu (洪敬富) said that Chinese intervention in the form of Beijing’s 26 measures “benefiting Taiwanese,” its ban on individual travel by Chinese to Taiwan and its prohibition on Chinese actors attending the Golden Horse Awards had only a limited effect.
“One could say that Chinese attempts [at influencing the election] utterly failed,” Hung said.
Given the abrupt removal of Wang Zhimin (王志民), former director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, over the protests in Hong Kong, Hung predicted that Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Liu Jieyi (劉結一) might be told to step down at the 19th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s fifth plenary meeting to be held in the fall.
National Taiwan Normal University political science professor Fan Shih-ping (范世平) said that voters chose to safeguard their freedoms, democratic way of life and other Taiwanese values.
“The voters rejected Han — seen to be an irresponsible man full of bluster and empty promises — and chose Tsai to stand up against Chinese pressure and continue, through her strong leadership, to engage with the international community,” Fan said.
He pointed out that China’s perceived meddling and threats, along with the situation in Hong Kong, were important factors in the Tsai and DPP victory yesterday, along with the public’s opposition to closer political and economic links with China.
Fan said that Taiwanese were mindful of the Hong Kong protests and it motivated their choice of president.
Han and the KMT were rejected for their pro-China stance, Fan said, adding that the party’s method of conducting their presidential campaign reflected negatively on them.
Asked by the media whether KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) should shoulder responsibility for the election results, KMT Tainan legislative candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said that Wu must bear the responsibility.
The entire party has been mired in chaos since the presidential primary, Hung said, adding that she was sorry to see the party in such a state.
“The party must re-evaluate things and make necessary changes,” Hung said.
An Internet user in China yesterday said that the pro-independence curriculum taught to the younger generation in Taiwan has clearly redefined the nation’s political landscape.
Yesterday, political commentator Chen Hui-wen (陳揮文), who had earlier predicted that Han would win by 1.2 million votes, apologized for the erroneous prediction, after the elections ended with a decisive victory for Tsai and the DPP.
The KMT mistakenly believed that it could ride the positive momentum from its results in the 2018 nine-in-one elections to a presidential ticket yesterday, he said.
Additional reporting by Hsieh Chieh-yu, Tseng Te-jung, Jason Pan and CNA
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