Calls have been growing within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to save legislator-at-large seats in next year’s legislative election for younger members who are willing to speak up for the party, instead of using the seats as a bargaining chip for candidate hopefuls running for regional seats in the legislature.
The KMT is expected to soon start the candidate nomination process for next year’s legislative election, which is scheduled to take place on Jan. 16 along with the presidential election.
According to sources familiar with the matter who requested anonymity, many KMT members have their eyes set on legislator-at-large seats, given that a number of the party’s incumbents — including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and legislators Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍), Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟), Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) and Pan Wei-kang (潘維綱) — are barred from seeking re-election next year due to having served two or three terms in their posts.
KMT legislators-at-large Wu Yu-jen (吳育仁) and Su Ching-chuan’s (蘇清泉) intentions to run as regional legislators in next year’s race also opens up more seats, the sources said.
However, the sources said KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) has laid out rules prohibiting any party member with enough “combat capability” to fight in the upcoming legislative election from seeking nomination as a legislator-at-large candidate, with a number of incumbent regional legislators having already been rejected.
A KMT member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that, while Chu has ushered in some reforms since he took over the chairmanship from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in January, real changes must be made to how the party selects its legislator-at-large candidates if it wants the public, particularly the younger generation, to feel its determination for reform.
“Therefore, it is expected that Chu will most likely compile that list with drastic reforms and the party’s next generation in mind,” the anonymous member said.
KMT Central Standing Committee member Lee Te-wei (李德維) said legislator-at-large seats have traditionally been used as a negotiating tool for party members vying for regional seats in the legislature, but it is time to give the party’s younger members a chance to shine.
“Since the KMT is expected to have fewer ‘secured legislator-at-large seats’ in next year’s election, the party should nominate those who can truly fight for the KMT, instead of placing those who are picked for other reasons on the list,” Lee said.
Meanwhile, the party’s new seven-member “legislative election campaign strategy committee” continues to be dogged by controversy.
The committee is charged with overseeing nomination and campaign strategies for all of the party’s candidates for regional and Aboriginal seats in the legislature, as well as compiling its list of legislator-at-large nominees.
However, the inclusion of Presidential Office Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) and Executive Yuan Deputy Secretary-General Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) in the committee has raised concerns, as some worry that it might allow government officials to hold control over legislators.
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