Embattled Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) has vowed to take full responsibility for the party’s double defeat on Sunday in a Taichung legislative by-election and attempt to recall independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐).
Speaking with reporters in Tainan a day after the voting, Chu said he would “shoulder full responsibility for the setback and apologize to all of our supporters.”
However, Chu said the KMT would not give up on building a stronger opposition force to act as a check and balance on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in city and county-level elections to be held at the end of this year.
Chu, who was elected as KMT chair in September last year, said that to win future elections, the 103-year-old party needs to solicit more support from swing voters and younger Taiwanese while also appealing to the so-called “light blue” demographic that affiliate themselves with the KMT.
“Only by being unified will we able to work with other opposition parties to fight the ruling DPP that controls the media and an ‘Internet army,’” he said.
Chu’s comments were made amid mounting pressure from within his own party in the wake of a string of consecutive electoral defeats since he took office.
Last month, all four KMT-backed referendum proposals — including two initiated by the party — failed at the polls.
On Sunday, a by-election in Taichung saw Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) of the DPP elected to the legislature over the KMT’s Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恒).
Meanwhile, a KMT-backed recall attempt against Lim was also defeated the same night, as the number of “yes” votes did not pass the required threshold.
Political analysts have attributed the defeats to the KMT’s failure to mobilize its political assets in the by-election and in the recall vote.
In contrast, the DPP put up a united front in support of Lim, who has a good relationship with the DPP, they said.
Chu was also criticized for not attending a KMT press conference on Sunday night in the wake of the defeats.
At Sunday’s press event, KMT spokesman Ling Tao (凌濤) defended Chu by saying that neither the referendums, recall votes nor by-election had been initiated during Chu’s tenure.
Chu was simply shouldering the responsibility of his predecessor, Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), he added.
Media reports suggest that Chu’s no-show on Sunday had irritated many hardcore KMT supporters and even KMT lawmakers, who felt the chairman was trying to dodge responsibility.
KMT Legislator Lee De-wei (李德維), for one, said Chu’s absence was a sign of “cowardice” and a poor show of crisis management on the KMT’s part, while calling on Chu to face reality.
KMT Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said the party desperately needed to conduct a full-scale review into the latest losses.
“There’s no shame in failing. The only shame is not facing your failure,” he said.
Media personality and Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) urged KMT supporters to remain calm and give Chu more time to make adjustments to prepare the party for the year-end local elections.
Jaw also called on Chu to include the opinions of lawmakers, KMT city and county heads, and academics in his decisionmaking process, instead of relying on his “inner circle” as he did before.
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