Several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members are questioning a new regulation that requires voters in this weekend’s chairmanship election to have been party members for a minimum of five years.
The members say the restriction is an attempt to reduce the number of eligible voters as a face-saving measure for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is running for re-election as party chairman.
The election will be held at the KMT’s party congress on Saturday.
The party headquarters has announced that to be eligible to vote in the poll, members must have paid membership fees for the past five years in full.
The requirement has rendered many KMT members ineligible to participate in the election.
A party official, who declined to be named, said that only 50,000 KMT members out of 150,000 in the Greater Kaohsiung region would be able to cast their ballots in the election.
The official added that of the nearly 1 million KMT members nationwide, only about 370,000 would be eligible to vote.
“Many party members only found out recently that they cannot eligible vote,” the official said.
KMT headquarters officials said notices informing members of the new restriction were mailed to local branch offices as early as January, adding that the measure was aimed at informing members to pay their membership dues for the past five years in order to be eligible for voting in the party election.
The notification has caused dissent in the party’s rank-and-file, with some saying it is unreasonable.
“The chairman serves a four-year term. So why do people have to have paid five years of membership fees to elect the chairman?” KMT Central Standing Committee member Lee Te-wei (李德維) said.
However, KMT Cultural and Communications Committee deputy head Yin Wei (殷瑋) said the regulation had been part of KMT bylaws for nearly six years.
The bylaw on eligibility to vote in chairmanship polls was amended in August 2007 to include the five-year membership and fee requirement and became effective in 2008, Yin said.
“The amendment was drafted to prevent members from only paying their fees during election years, which is unfair to those who pay every year,” he added.
When asked why in the 2009 chairman election, voters were only required to have been in the party for two years, Yin said that since the bylaw was not applied retroactively the threshold at the time was just two years.