Wow. Just wow.
Friday before the KMT's poll to determine whether Deputy Speaker of the Legislature Hung Hsiu-chu would win the KMT presidential primary in which she has no opposition, my wife laughingly asked me what she should say if the pollsters called her.
"I love Hung," I replied. "Unification now!"
It looks like we were hardly the only ones with that idea, as Hung passed the threshold easily (Taipei Times)...
Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) yesterday passed the 30 percent threshold in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) three presidential primary polls yesterday, with an average approval rating of 46.203 percent.It's pretty widely conceded that Hung was boosted by the intervention of pan-Greens. Friday the KMT has a national party convention, at which she expects to be confirmed. On July 19 there's a KMT Party Congress. If she gets past both those hurdles -- nothing is finalized until after the Congress in July -- she's the candidate. WSJ noted that this would make an election between two female candidates. The gender politics of this election will be very interesting...
Hung, who was the only contender, can now be nominated by the KMT to run in the presidential election in January next year.
The Taipei Times also observed that KMT Chairman Eric Chu supports the outcome of the poll and that Ma has promised to support whoever the party picks. They also said that Hung wants someone with politics similar to hers -- reactionary KMT, I suppose. If none of the major figures wants to run as her veep, perhaps they will dust off some right-winger from the past, or else pick an ideologically impeccable academic. Solidarity.tw, who monitors the media, noted that the Blue media are now pushing her. I take that to mean that the KMT leadership has sent down The Word: it's Hung.
DPP Chairman and Presidential Candidate Tsai Ing-wen reacted slyly to Hung's victory (FocusTaiwan):
"We bless her," Tsai said as asked by media reporters about Hung's passing the 30 percent presidential primary poll threshold with an average approval rating of 46.203 percent earlier in the day.I bet they bless her. It might be Hung who is "married to the KMT" as she has said, but it's the KMT that is committing suttee here. Hung's speech revealed someone who either copies or is to the right of the deeply unpopular Ma Ying-jeou, and her comments since have all been in that vein. The smart move for her would be to run against Ma and his policies, promising change and listening to the public, but in a Storm media piece she said pointedly she wouldn't try to increase her votes by attacking Ma (although given that he is still powerful, she might be playing it safe). She also said that she advocates an EU-style union for China and Taiwan (!). As if there hadn't been massive, popular public protests against a mere sellout trade pact last year, and those protests hadn't led directly to the KMT's defeat in November! The public wants less China, and greater focus on the issues of its everyday lives... so far Hung has offered nothing but nationalist ideological certitude. UPDATE: Solidarity has a mess of her verbiage in translation. UPDATE: WantWant reviews her career. UPDATE: Anon at Thinking Taiwan points out she has no record of attracting voters with different ideological views.
Worse still for the KMT is the ongoing grumbling about her from outside the bubble universe of the KMT core (Taipei Times):
However, a KMT source in central Taiwan who wished to remain anonymous said that if Hung were nominated, the January presidential and legislative elections in central and southern Taiwan would be a disaster, citing Hung’s dedication to the pan-blue ideology and to unification with China on cross-strait policies as her weak points.She's going to chill voters south of Hsinchu with her strident ideological positioning, which will only drive neutrals even closer to the DPP. The latest TISR mood barometer from Thursday the 11th has Tsai ahead of Hung by ten points, leading in most demographics. Tellingly, Tsai is ahead 34-17 among middle of the road voters. Looking at age groups, Tsai's lead is greatest among the young, and tied in the over 70 group. That doesn't augur well for the KMT in future election cycles.
Since the KMT landslide defeat in the nine-in-one elections in November last year, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has gained a lot of influence nationwide and the KMT could ill afford to lose more neutral voters to the pan-green camp, the source said.
Pundits often attributed the KMT’s losses to the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s China policies.
“We are helpless in the current situation and can only hope for the best,” the source said.
Some have been arguing that the KMT would give up on the Presidency and concentrate on winning the legislature. But if that's the strategy, why Hung? She negates such a strategy, which calls for someone like Wang Jin-pyng who has the legislators' support and wide popularity in Taiwan.
Then there's another group. Grant remarked at the Wilderness to a Union officer who thought Lee had them beat: "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time." A bunch of people who see the KMT that way: Hung is the leading edge of a brilliant, nefarious plot, which we dullards have yet to divine.
The answer is simple: there is no strategy. No plot. No brilliant turn and landing on both the DPP's flanks at the same time. The KMT is deeply split and strife-ridden. Its leadership is a mess, and everyone is feeling the cold wind of mene mene tekel upharsin. Indeed, the KMT's inability to stop the apparently suicidal Hung candidacy shows how weak and divided the party's leadership has become. The mainlander core has insisted that ethnicity and ideology are more important than victory...
Another group of people is predicting that the Southern KMTers may up and leave the Party. It's pleasant to imagine the KMT dissolving that way, but it's very unlikely. It would mean that the southern legislators, already in grim straits, would be running in the 2016 election for a new and not very wealthy party, against the DPP and in many places, against KMT candidates when rival factions put forward their people under the KMT banner. Nope, the legislators are wedded to the mainlander clique at the top of the KMT, which has betrayed their interests. They are all going onto the pyre together.
KMT Sec-Gen Lee Shih-chuan had a piece in The Diplomat a few days ago, with a forlorn call to Tsai to "clarify" her cross-strait stance. This pressure was predictable months ago, as the extent of the KMT's problems became clear: the cross-strait card is the only one the KMT can play. The drumbeat of the "Tsai must clarify" propaganda has been dulled by the obvious pleasure the US took in hosting Tsai on her recent trip to Washington. It's obvious she said all the right things, and the KMT can no longer appeal to the US government by invoking the demon China. Beijing has already caused the US to change its position; nobody has helped Tsai more than President Xi of China.
As for Hung, she's a party list legislator since 2008, which means she has come to the end of her two terms, according to the KMT rules, and can't be appointed to the party list again. She's 67, she'll be over 70 when the next legislative election rolls around. It seems to me that she is gunning for KMT Chairman as a consolation prize; indeed, she's already said that the party's candidate should be the Chairman, or perhaps the Veep slot if someone else is drafted. It is hard for me to imagine that the KMT would simply shove her out the door with nothing if they draft either Wang or the enormously unpopular Wu Den-yi as the candidate.
But you never know. The abyss yawns...
- Low pay continues to let China ravage Taiwan firms.
- POW Taiwan site on WWII POWs in Taiwan
- Shelly Rigger writes on the visit of Tsai to DC, confirming what everyone else has said.
- CNN food show has Taiwan ranked as world's best food. Note vast gap in votes between 1 and 2. Sure, very believable.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!