KMT meeting defends nomination rules

TIGHTENING THE LEASH?:Some lawmakers have complained that the new rules on securing renomination are intended to enforce party discipline on the incumbents

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 21, 2015 - Page 3

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday attended a KMT caucus meeting to explain the party’s new legislator nomination system, which was announced earlier this week at a Central Standing Committee meeting.

The system’s higher threshold has met opposition from the party’s incumbent lawmakers.

The KMT announced the legislator nomination mechanism on Tuesday. It requires incumbent legislators to pass a review by a newly established evaluation committee to secure renomination. If there are other party members who wish to represent the party in their electoral districts, the incumbents would have to have at least a 5 percentage point lead in the poll against the challengers to obtain the party’s nomination.

The new system has been criticized by some KMT legislators, who say it is intended to keep lawmakers on a tight leash and to get rid of those who do not fall in line.

Hau yesterday said that while primaries were immediately held if the incumbents were challenged in the past, the new mechanism allows negotiations to take place first for new arrangements for the challengers, and if that fails, a poll is then to be conducted by the party.

The negotiations would continue if the incumbents were not able to gain a 5 percentage point lead in the poll, Hau said.

“We will return to the primaries only if all of the negotiations and coordinations fail,” he said, adding that the approach embodies the spirit of “incumbents first” to avoid primaries and maintain party unity.

“The first round of nominations will be confirmed early next month,” Hau added.

Regarding the constitution of the evaluation committee and the evaluation criteria, which some lawmakers have questioned, Hau said that the committee would consist of the party secretary-general and other members who have held party caucus positions and who are well informed about the lawmakers’ performances.

Hau said lawmakers certainly have the right to voice different opinions.

“Only those who deliberately vote [on the legislative floor] against a resolution passed by the party caucus will be considered ‘not in line with the party,’” he said.

KMT Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) was not convinced.

“With the social atmosphere we have now, it is already not easy for someone to fight for the KMT. Don’t assume that we are really that into running [in the election],” Lee said.

Separately yesterday, KMT Chairman and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) spoke in defense of the primary rule that the party would intervene in nominations to coordinate a candidate for a constituency where the incumbent did not poll at least 5 percentage points ahead of a contender.

Chu said it is a misunderstanding that the 5 percent threshold is unfairly biased against incumbent lawmakers because the rule would ensure that incumbent lawmakers get party nominations without entering a primary unless their contenders are proved to be a significantly stronger candidate.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan