Kuomintang needs steady leadership for 2016 election
The Kuomintang (KMT) confirmed Sunday that Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu ( ), with an approval rating of 46 percent, has been successful in the presidential primary polls and will therefore be nominated by the party to run in the 2016 presidential election.
Many KMT members and supporters have already expressed their backing of Hung, and the KMT is scheduled to convene a meeting on July 19 to formally select her as the party’s candidate.
So a contest between two women, Hung and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hopeful Tsai Ing-wen ( ), appears set, since the KMT is not nominating anyone else. But is this a healthy development for the party?
With none of the KMT heavyweights showing a willingness to run, Hung first volunteered herself as a candidate as a way to spur the party’s strongest contenders to come forward.
However, KMT Chairman Eric Chu ( ), Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng ( ) and Vice President Wu Den-yih ( ), the most influential figures in the party, have not indicated clear intentions to take on the challenge.
The primary reason is that none of them feels confident about defeating Tsai, whose party now controls more than half of the nation’s local governments, while the KMT holds only six out of 23.
This, however, is not reason enough for them to turn away from the race. The leaders of a political party are obliged to take the reigns in major elections. This has been the case for all political parties in Taiwan, and also around the world.
Does it really make sense that a party not push its strongest contenders to the front line, but instead ushers in someone with less popular support and political capital?
We must admit that Hung has many great qualities. Having earned the “Little Red Pepper” nickname for her sharp language, she is a strong woman who has demonstrated efficiency and unwavering resolve in the Legislative Yuan for more than two decades. Her willingness to take the stand in the 2016 election is testimony to her courage.
While the KMT claims that Hung’s nomination follows the guidelines of party chapters, everyone familiar with Taiwan politics knows that Hung was never considered the KMT’s first, second, or even third in line when it comes to the presidential nomination.
Given the odds against them, perhaps it makes sense for KMT heavyweights Chu and Wang to stay away from the race and return years later when they have a better chance.
However, this behavior is similar to a general abandoning command before battle because he thinks it can’t be won. No matter the odds, generals are not supposed to dodge their responsibilities.
The coming election can be perceived as a battle too, except it will be carried out via votes. The looming conflict is unavoidable, and Chu and Wang should take charge. Are they setting up a female officer who will be “sacrificed” before the overwhelming enemy?
There are rumors that some of Hung’s votes gained in the primary polls — carried out over the weekend — actually came from DPP supporters, who hope that a second-tier contender faces off against Tsai.
The KMT ought to prove its mettle. Founded in 1894, the KMT has played a pivotal role in the development of Taiwan. The country needs a strong and capable KMT to ensure checks and balances in the two-party system.
No one can be certain about the future. The 2016 election could still be a tight race given Wang and Chu’s popular support and the KMT’s broad pan-blue base. So these leaders should come forward. If the KMT is to lose, it should at least do so with grace and courage.