DPP and KMT Presidential Controversies Reveal Depth of Party Factionalism

Taiwan’s major political parties are coping with deep cultures of factionalism.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/03/27
By: Brian Hioe

Controversies in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Kuomintang (KMT)

Credit: Taiwan Presidential Office / Flickr

regarding their choice of presidential candidate prove that factionalism is alive and well in both major political parties in Taiwan. No clear frontrunner has yet emerged in both parties, though both the KMT and DPP are attempting to plan ahead of time for who the other party runs.

Although it has long been speculated that former premier and mayor of Tainan William Lai (賴清德) might seek to challenge current president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for the DPP’s 2020 presidential nomination, it still came as a surprise when Lai announced that he would be seeking the DPP’s presidential nomination earlier this month.

Namely, Lai did not give his seniors within the party any advance notice about his plans to run. But despite a high-profile open letter by DPP elders associated with the Formosa Alliance calling on Tsai not to run for a second term, Tsai experienced a wave of popularity after her strong response to a Jan. 2 speech by Chinese president Xi Jinping in which Xi vowed the use of force against Taiwan if Taiwan continued to resist political unification. It is somewhat surprising that Lai decided to challenge Tsai anyway.

Indications are that Lai did coordinate with these pan-Green traditionalists in announcing his run,but not all members of the influential New Tide faction within the DPP. Lai belongs to the New Tide but is no longer as close with it as he once was, after having served as mayor of Tainan from 2010 to 2017. Some members of the New Tide faction back Tsai, such as party heavyweight Chen Chu (陳菊), who most recently served as secretary-general of the Presidential Office. On the other hand, well-known DPP politicians affiliated with the New Tide such as Taoyuan mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦), legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), and Tainan mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲), have at least publicly expressed surprise at Lai’s run. Others are likely to back Lai, even if organized support from DPP members for Tsai has been stronger to date with 34 DPP politicians, mostly legislators, announcing support for Tsai.    [FULL  STORY]

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