A Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) member on Tuesday filed a provisional injunction with the Taipei District Court against the party’s upcoming leadership election, alleging that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) stepping down from his role as chairman violates Article 17 of the party’s charter.
Article 17 stipulates: “If party members are elected to the presidency, they are to assume the position of party chairman upon assuming the presidency and step down as chairman when they are no longer president. The clause is not applicable with stipulations on terms of election included within this article.”
KMT member Chen Shu-fen (陳淑芬) said that Ma’s resignation as chairman on Dec. 3 last year and the KMT Central Standing Committee’s decision to hold a new election for the role contravene the charter, as Ma may step down only when he is no longer president or has his party membership revoked.
The amendment — ratified by the party’s 19th National Congress in 2013 and often regarded by pundits as Ma’s attempt to absolve himself of responsibility in case the party fared poorly in last year’s Nov 29 nine-in-one elections — has illuminated a clash between regulations and tradition.
The KMT retained only one out of six municipalities — losing control of the capital, Taipei, as well — and just five counties out of the nation’s 22 in last year’s elections.
Taiwanese tradition calls for a political party’s leader to step down when it fares poorly in an election.
The move is interpreted as “taking responsibility” for the loss.
However, Chen said regulations sought to prevent a party schism in the event of dissent between a party chairman and the president, as well as preventing local government leaders — if elected to the party chairmanship — from using party authority to supersede local government benefits over the central government.
In response, KMT spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) yesterday said that the party charter regulated only the automatic assumption of office as party chairman to aid party unity and political focus, adding that the charter did not include the exception of the party chairman stepping down of their own initiative.
Charles Chen added that the party charter does not need amending and that any actions taken while the party chairman is absent could be handled under the process referred to as “absence of chairman” in Article 17.
The party could not forbid the party chairman from stepping down, as such rules would contravene the Civil Code and Criminal Code, Charles Chen said.
The party needs unity and reforms, not dissension and slander, Charles Chen said, calling for all party members to vote in the leadership election on Saturday.
Additional reporting by Chang Hsiao-ti
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