by David Parmer
As for the January 2016 Taiwan national elections, (presidential and legislative) what is interesting will not be the election results, but rather the results of the election. The election results seem pretty much a given: Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen will win by a comfortable majority. Kuomintang (KMT) party Chair Eric Chu will finish a respectable second (which is why he was brought in to replace Hung Hsiu-chu, who was headed into the black hole of ignominious defeat, dragging the KMT with her) and People First Party’s James Soong will get the crumbs. Those will be the election results and should come as no surprise to anyone. The big question is what will be the results of the election?
Presumptive winner Tsai has said in effect that she won’t rock the boat regarding cross-strait ties. And that is good news as far as Washington and Beijing are concerned. Perhaps there will be some social legislation and domestic restructuring. The China Post reported on September 6, 2015 that the Tsai proposes using defense spending budget to promote local industries, and that she argues the government should do more for infrastructure projects to promote employment. Specifically this would include upgrading IT, green technology and industries related to people’s daily lives. In foreign policy Tsai is said to focus on Taiwan’s traditional ties with the USA, and might become friendlier with Japan.
Three real questions remain however:
1) How will Beijing react to a DPP victory in the presidential and legislative elections? Will there be “business as usual” as there has been with the KMT, or will there be a cooling down and heating up of cross strait ties?
2) Once the DPP was won, they will become “the establishment.” How will the student movement deal with the new administration? Will the DPP get a pass from the younger generation, or will it have to prove itself by actions?
3) What does the shift toward a “Taiwan Identity” mean? Reports suggest that many people see their identity as Taiwanese and not Chinese. How will 3) affect 1) and 2) above?
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Photo: DPP Facebook Page
by David Parmer
Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou will meet PRC President Xi Jinping on November 7, 2015 in Singapore. The schedule includes a short meeting followed by dinner. “Historic” is certainly appropriate to describe this meeting, as heads of the two governments have not met since the Nationalists (KMT) fled to Taiwan in 1949.
But what is the purpose of the sudden meeting? Reuters reported that President Ma said that the meeting is about normalizing future relations and helping reduce hostilities in the short term, but it is not about the January 2016 Taiwan elections.
All things being equal, the KMT will chalk up a loss to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party in the 2016 elections. It looks like it will not be a question of a loss, but rather how big a loss. The KMT apparently realized this and dumped its candidate Hung Hsiu-chu so that it did not suffer a humiliating defeat. Party chair and New Taiwan Mayor Eric Chu has stepped up as the KMT’s presidential candidate.
One reason the KMT is so unpopular is that many see it getting too cozy with the PRC to the detriment of Taiwan’s political and economic interests. So why the meeting? How can the meeting possibly help the KMT in the short run?
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by David Parmer
Well, it seems it’s a done deal: Taiwan’s KMT Candidate Hung Hsiu-chu is history. The party has asked her to step aside due to her poor showing in the ongoing race for president in the January 2016 elections against the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen.
Hung reportedly was asked by KMT Chairman Eric Chu to step down but refused. The plan now seems to replace the fiery Hung with party chairman and New Taipei mayor Chu. The KMT might still face a loss in the January elections, but not the landslide that would occur if Hung remained as its presidential candidate. In a report published on October 9, Want China Times reported that the ruling KMT offered Hung an apology on October 8, admitting that she had been ill-treated, and called for a meeting with Hung to offer their formal apology.
The 2016 Taiwan elections are really important for a number of reasons, and most have to do with the island’s relations with and status regarding the People’s Republic just across the Taiwan Strait. In the past all parties have been willing to kick the can down the road regarding the status of Taiwan. This has been going on since the re-opening of ties between the U.S. and PRC. But now Mr. Xi Jinping, speaking for his government, has gone on record as saying that this can not go on forever.
As for the upcoming election, it seems that nobody will be completely satisfied—perhaps that is the nature of politics. The PRC will not stand for any hint of Taiwan Independence, and many on Taiwan feel the KMT is too friendly with the mainland to the detriment of the local people and local economy. So what is the answer? Maybe the least bad option: Eric Chu, the KMT and the status quo.
In just over 90 days we will have an answer to this question. Do you have anything to add to the discussion? Please let us know your thoughts.
Update: Want China Times reported on October 12, 2015 that Taiwan’s Koumintang Party will hold a special party congress in Taipei on October 17, 2015 to select a new candidate to replace Ms. Hung.