Saturday, September 22, 2007

KMT-PFP Merger in the cards?

When the new legislative reductions and new election system were announced, there was widespread conviction that they would spell the doom of the small parties. Of particular interest is the People First Party (PFP), which was never a real political party (the KMT was at least welded together by a common interest in maintaining flows of cash) but the personal faction of powerful former KMT politician James Soong. Soong's star blazed across Taiwan's politics from 2000-2004, and after his great showing in the 2000 election, many predicted he'd be a force to be reckoned with.

The reckoning came, Soong receiving his personal notification of mene mene tikal upharsin when he won only 9% of the vote in the Taipei mayoral elections last year. Brooding somewhere offstage, his party has begun to dissolve. This week the KMT and the PFP were back in talks about a merger:

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) yesterday pledged to campaign for pan-blue legislative candidates recommended by the KMT-People First Party (PFP) alliance regardless of their party affiliation.

The KMT-PFP alliance joined to nominate six legislative candidates and is planning to register legislator-at-large candidates under the KMT, Wu said.

"The six candidates were nominated by the KMT and by the PFP. Regardless of their party affiliations, the KMT will treat them the same and campaign for them," Wu said yesterday.

The six PFP legislative candidates nominated by the alliance are Ko Shu-ming (柯淑敏), Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞), Wu Chin-chih (吳清池), Chung Shao-Ho (鍾紹和), Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁) and Daniel Hwang (黃義交).
Hwang yesterday confirmed that he joined the KMT last month.

Hwang said he made the decision to meet the expectations of his supporters, adding that PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) was aware of the matter and understood his position.

Chung, who was jointly recommended by both the KMT and the PFP to run for the legislature in January in the first district in Kaohsiung County, said Hwang's move "reflected the political reality" and was "understandable."

Chung said PFP members running on behalf of the two parties all face the same situation as Hwang because "supporters want to see us run under the banner of the KMT."

According to the consensus the KMT and PFP reached on the joint candidates in April, the legislative candidates will be registered under the KMT, and the two parties will negotiate on the nomination mechanism of the legislator-at-large candidates.

The PFP has been steadily leaking people to the KMT for the last couple of years, but the loss of Danial Hwang -- Hwang Yi-chiao -- is a major one. Hwang has been Soong's right hand for many years, back to the days when Soong was Provincial Governor. Hwang had been spokesman for the PFP, had served as executive director of its policy committee in the months up to his switch.

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