Friday, July 03, 2015

Judgment Day: July 19th.

Could the KMT disappear into the distance?

Wow. New Zeitgeist: The Journalist's lead article on wed is about the KMT splitting. Wednesday night's talk show on Next TV was 2 hours of on the possibility of the KMT splitting. Radio Taiwan International also did one.   It's all over the media. The rumors, stories, and news of the KMT implosion are flying about -- one can hardly keep up. Some highlights... UPDATE: Taiwan Take, the Coming Collapse of the KMT, part 2.

 From the KMT news organ:
Hung Hsiu-Chu (洪秀柱), Deputy Legislative Speaker and KMT Presidential candidate in-waiting, has drawn some criticism over her “One China, One Interpretation” and cross-Strait peace agreement campaign planks. Yesterday, after visiting former KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), Hung said Lien noted that a cross-Strait peace agreement was one of the “Five Visions” proposed in the 2005 Lien-Hu meeting. Lien said, “For the good of Taiwan, these visions must be carried out.”

Yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also expressed his support for Hung. He pointed out that “One China, One Interpretation” and “One China, Different Interpretations” both emphasized the “commonalities” as in “seeking commonalities while shelving differences.”As for Hung’s insistence on “One China,” Ma continued, “it is almost identical to my advocacy that ‘One China’ is the ROC.” “One China, One Interpretation” is the same as the KMT’s cross-Strait policy, added Ma.
Yes, that's right, Hung sought to dispel concerns about her strange cross-strait policy by gaining the support of two-time presidential loser Lien Chan. President Ma, a hardliner and ideologue who is still powerful within the KMT even though he has done severe damage to the Party, publicly said this week that there was "no possibility" that Hung would be forced to give up the nomination. On Twitter Ben Goren of Letters from Taiwan opined that Hung was Ma's catspaw to carry out the cross-strait policies that he dare not.

It's already July and Hung still hasn't assured us she is Taiwanese. Even Ma unbent enough to do that.

How long can Hung stay the candidate with this gathering storm of opposition and laughter? Frozen Garlic remarked that KMTers are living in a bubble universe. Got a little taste of that bubble yesterday, when the author of that bad East Asia Forum piece responded to my comments on his piece.
Hung is indeed a lightweight in the KMT. While other heavyweights chose not to run and waited to be drafted, Hung at least had the courage to throw her hat into the ring. Those who felt she is not the ideal candidate should either run of persuade their preferred choice to run in the primary. They assumed Hung is not going to cross the threshold and waited for the draft to happen. When the draft did not happen, they tried to justify their stance against her by leaving or threatening to leave the party. So far, only one former legislator has done so.
Bubble world at work: According to this writer, Hung is not an existential threat to the party who is making people consider leaving, it's just sour grapes by losers. Bubble world at work 2: Look at last sentence -- when those words were written, at least two had already left, one of whom had established her own party, and the KMT legislator in Changhua said "I am not running for re-election" despite having won huge the last time. The Taipei Times identified her as the 7th legislator who has declined to run.

The fact is that the KMT is facing devastation, because the flip side of this support for Hung is contempt for the Taiwanese who make the party go, and their informal leader, Speaker Wang Jin-pyng. The Taiwanese local factions are now fleeing the party, just as many of us thought they might months ago when we first identified the KMT's potential for implosion.

The Taipei Times noted in a piece on the resurrection of James Soong's political career and his emergence as a possible presidential candidate:
The PFP held a press conference in Taipei to announce its five legislative candidates for the Jan. 16 elections. Three of the candidates are former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, including Chang Sho-wen (張碩文), who just withdrew from the KMT earlier this week.
The KMT candidate in Tainan (District 4) has also declined to run. Solidarity translates an article from the pro-KMT UDN on the situation in Changhua:
Changhua County was always blue until the November 29 elections, when it all turned green. It is a bellwether for the next presidential election. The KMT had drafted its incumbents—Wang Hui-mei 王惠美, Lin Tsang-min 林滄敏 and Cheng Ru-fen 鄭汝芬—to contest 3 of Changhua’s 4 legislative districts, and it felt optimistic about each. But Cheng has now refused her nomination, and the party is still struggling to find a candidate for the fourth district. It had drafted Chang Chin-kun 張錦昆, chief of Yuanlin Township, but he has told the party he’s not interested and recommended former Legislator Hsiao Ching-tien 蕭景田. Hsiao, in turn, has stated several times he’ll go wherever Wang does. The KMT elites’ attitude toward Wang, and Hung’s statement that “if Wang wants to continue being Speaker, the only way to do that now is to run for Legislature in a district” made Hsiao unable to see or hear anymore because he was extremely disappointed.
Of course, note that Soong a key qualification of Soong's for a pan-Blue presidential run is that he is a mainlander and member of the ruling elite. But now his party is increasingly being seen as the place to which Taiwanese legislators in the KMT will bolt. Soong, who came within 3% of being President in 2000, briefly ruled a huge PFP, and then vanished into obscurity, is now being promoted in the media, back from political death as a possible savior. I suppose if one is going to be savior, one has to rise again...

A Soong-Wang ticket would be formidable and tough for Tsai to beat. The factions won't fight for the KMT in this election if Hung is the KMT's choice, but they will fight for a ticket with Wang. An advantage for Wang is that if he becomes the PFP vice presidential candidate, he can get a seat in the legislature as a party list legislator (not elected, the parties get extra seats based on their showing in the election). KMT Chairman (for how much longer?) Eric Chu has already indicated that he won't be given an extra term as a party list legislator. Solidarity commented:
Plenty of pundits are floating Wang as a PFP presidential, vice presidential, or speaker candidate, but it’s not that simple. As soon as Wang became a PFP candidate, the KMT would eject him from the party; to avoid that dignity he would have left already. But once he’s out of the party, he’s out of the Legislature as well: party-list members, unlike district representatives, serve at the discretion of their parties. That’s why Ma tried so hard to make the KMT to force Wang out earlier.
However, a viable Soong run assumes that he pulls enough legislators out of the KMT to make a run of it with an enlarged PFP.

July 19th, the Party Congress. Judgment Day. Will Skynet go with Hung?
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Tommy said...

I am not sure a Soong-Wang ticket would be so formidable. What your analysis overlooks is that if Soong and Wang banded together and formed a ticket under the PFP, Hung and her current supporters, as well as Ma and, to some extent, Lien, would be left with their pants down. This means that a Soong-Wang ticket might ensure the pick-up of voters who prefer a localized KMT at the expense of many hardline voters.

And would a Soong-Wang ticket mean that the KMT would not nominate anyone? Would the KMT really let the PFP take the lead in the election? I doubt they are ready for that. Nor is it really likely for Soong to suddenly run in the KMT since he has his own party.

So this "best case" scenario might create a genuine three-way election in which case the blue vote would be split into two sizable chunks. Sure, Tsai might not win 50 percent, but it would be hard for her to lose.

Anonymous said...

Ma is also going an overseas trip returning one day before the party congress. This massively reduces his ability to control the agenda at the congress or quell an insurrection in the party.

an angry taiwanese said...

The KMT-Chinese shows the coin to the KMT-Taiwanese and says: 'Whose head is this?'.

The KMT-Taiwanese replies: 'Chiang Kai-Shek'.

'Give back to the Chinese what is the Chinese's.'

Then the KMT-Taiwanese leave the party with bitterness.

SwirlingTeapot said...

Mr. Turton,

What are your thoughts on Ms. Hung's outburst recently regarding the alleged "none existence" of the Republic of China? Could she be intentionally sabotaging the KMT to avenge her father?

Tommy said...

I don't see how a Soong-Wang ticket would pose a huge threat for Tsai. It would necessarily split the blue ticket severely. I agree with Taiwan Take in that it is unlikely that Soong would run at the head of the KMT. His PFP has too much to gain this time from being the "different" blue party. The KMT would have to really want him and be willing to "pay" for him.

Either way, do you really think Hung's supporters, not to mention those of Ma and Lien, would be happy if a Soong-Wang ticket were in the game? This means that the blue vote would definitely be severely split. As Tsai polls ahead of Wang, Soong and Hung individually, the more of them run in the race, the more the split benefits Tsai. She may not get 50 percent of the vote (which would be nice), but it would be hard for her to lose. Simply, there is too much bad blood on the blue side right now. said...

Re: Anonymous: Ma is returning from his overseas trip the day before the party congress, not leaving the day before. He took special care to clarify that with the media on Friday.

Carlos said...

Tommy, the threat has more to do with the legislature than the presidency. Tsai could still win, but the combined pan-blue total could prevent the DPP from getting a legislative majority.

les said...

The last thing Taiwan needs is another lame-duck president. The voters, even the green ones, will remember the second CSB term and may even think it's better for Tsai Ing-wen to keep her day job than be subjected to the kind of hobbling he was. If the polls for the LY don't go the DPP's way I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of pan-Greens decided not to vote at all.