Kuomintang leadership continues to court narcissism
Even as popularity rises for its dark-horse candidate Hung Hsiuchu, t he KMT party leadership continues to put narrow calculations above larger goals.
For months, t he ruling Kuomintang has been ensconced in the doldrums of defeat, indecision and false precepts. Following major electoral defeat in 2014, the party has remained listless, feeling the fleeting embers of gratification only when criticizing DPP presidential hopeful Tsai Ing-wen. It is a party with a hierarchy that has chosen to opt out before the contest, its leaders cowering from taking a stand.
And though the beating of an unfamiliar drum has gained momentum in the past few days with the growing popularity of Hung Hsiu-chu, the party continues to give off a waft that voters are only too familiar with: this is not the character of a viable, not to say trustworthy ruling party.
For its Leaders, Rules are Only
With days before a party-sanctioned opinion poll to determine the eligibility of Hung, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng dropped a glaring hint that the party could, if it should wish to, draft him as the KMT presidential candidate for which he would feel obliged to accept. If called to run, the “duty-bound” Wang would have the party’s war chest to use at his decree, using “party unity” as a shield against those who advocate a primary process more in line with democratic principles.
Hung took these remarks in stride: her soaring popularity in the past weeks, albeit from a low base, suggests that it is highly likely she will pass the opinion poll threshold. But Wang’s actions are indicative of a leadership that calls “unity and solidarity,” yet remains open to fractious action, vacillating between “running a primary according to regulations” or assenting to the will of its “Alisters.”
Party Unity Only in Name
Party Chairman Eric Chu fares no better. Chu put calculations of his political survival above party necessity. While voters are used to politicians breaking their promises in the face of greater opportunities, Chu’s vow to hold onto the mayoralty of New Taipei has much more to do with weigh- ing his chances of electability in 2020 than the honorable efforts of holding up a campaign promise. Much like Wang, Chu’s notion of solidarity is a narrow vision of its resources and manpower at his disposal as the party’s savior.
Wang and Chu have both forgotten that their initial acquiescence has already tainted them to the party base as naked opportunists. It is too late for them to emerge as the rescuers of a predicament that they have largely orchestrated. Hung has now steadily built her reputation as a candidate with passion, optimism and a sure-fire attitude in spite of the odds: every thing the leadership has eschewed.
Whether the KMT can avoid fumbling their best card in a worstcase scenario will depend squarely on whether Hung’s “Cinderella” story is allowed to run its course.