The News Lens
By: Courtney Donovan Smith (石東文)
Who will the KMT run for president in 2020, Chairman Wu Den-yih, former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, or another challenger candidate?
Normally, the question of who the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) will run for president is a simple one: The party chair has historically been the presumptive nominee. Also under normal circumstances, a party chair whose party has just won an overwhelming sweep of elected offices across the country should be riding high.
And yet, KMT chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) is weak and on the defensive. Wu is a loyal party man and one of the few native born Taiwanese largely trusted by the traditional dominant KMT “mainlander” families that decamped with the defeated Republic of China government to Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War in 1949. As a protege of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), he was picked to be premier, and eventually joined Ma on the winning ticket as vice presidential candidate in 2012.
Following the blowout election in 2016 that saw the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) win the presidency and the legislature by a large margin, the KMT was demoralized and in serious trouble: Both the party and their top politicians were unpopular and the electorate appeared to have permanently rejected the KMT’s pro-Chinese identity politics by a large margin. Into this breach, the native Taiwanese Wu ran for party chairman in 2017, and defeated a bevy of “mainlander” candidates, taking just over half the vote, in spite of Wu not being very popular with the electorate.
One of those challengers was Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), a largely unknown former legislator of humble “mainlander” background, with known gangster and local political faction connections. Perhaps with an eye on getting him out of the way, Han was dispatched to Kaohsiung to run for mayor in this year’s election – a city so firmly in the DPP’s camp they had ruled it for 20 years straight. A largely pro-Taiwan identity city, the rank out-of-towner seemed an almost impossible long shot. [FULL STORY]