Tag Archives: KMT

Taiwan: Presidential and General Elections, January 2016

January 16, 2016 witnessed two historic events in Taiwan: the election of the first female president, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the first legislative majority for the DPP. Tsai was elected to the presidency with an absolute majority of 56.1% of the votes, Eric Chu of the Kuomintang (KMT) received 31 percent of the popular votes, and James Soong of the People First Party (PFP) got 12.8 percent of the votes. Turnout was 66.3 percent, the lowest since 1996 when direct elections of the presidency began.

In the 113 legislative-seat race, the Central Election Commission reported a total of 354 candidates for 73 regional seats, 23 aboriginal candidates for 6 seats, 18 parties with 179 candidates for 34 at-large seats. The at-large seat-allocation for the parties is:

DPP 18
KMT 11
New Power Party (NPP) 2

Source: Central Election Commission

With the election, DPP holds 68 seats of the 113-seat legislature (up from 40); the Kuomintang (KMT) has 35 seats (down from 64), and the NPP, a new party formed in January following the Sunflower Movement where student-led protestors occupied the legislature in protest of opaque cross-straits trade agreements, wins five legislative seats. The other parties to sit in the legislature include three seats for the PFP (no change), 1 seat for the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union (down from 2), and one seat to an independent.

Going into election day, Tsai was the consistent leader in the polls, hitting her stride early in the race as the candidate-nominee for the DPP with no other contenders for the nomination. Indeed, Tainan mayor, William Lai Ching-te, who was rumoured to be a possible contender, mayor advocated for the party to unite behind Tsai’s candidacy on his facebook page.

In contrast, the majority ruling party going into the election, the KMT, floundered. The party’s presidential nomination was notable for the lack of political heavyweights contesting the party’s nomination. The party officially nominated Hung Hsiu-chu, deputy legislative speaker, as party nominee at the party congress in July following her success at the two-stage party primary, but the candidate was dogged by lacklustre support within the party. Indeed, key party figures absented themselves from Hung’s campaigns, and party members’ resistance to Hung’s candidacy amplified when the chair of the People First Party (PFP) James Soong, entered the presidential race in August.

Soong’s contestation of the presidential race was not a surprise: the candidate had left the KMT to form the splinter PFP party in 2000 to contest presidential elections then. Soong was rumoured to be approached by former DPP Chair Shih Ming-the, who announced his own candidacy for the presidential elections in late May, about a possible joint-ticket. However, Shih struggled to obtain the 270,000 signatures as endorsement to be eligible as presidential candidate and exited the race in September. Soong’s entry into the presidential race saw him immediately placed ahead of KMT’s Hung. That may have emboldened the candidate, or perhaps it was a standing strategy, but Soong was rumoured to be seeking support from his erstwhile party comrades, a charge he denied even as his visits to former KMT council members became known.

Meanwhile, the KMT – which had maintained publicly of support for the party nomination of Hung – saw increasingly vocal and public party opposition to the candidate. On October 17, the KMT officially cancelled Hung’s candidacy and replaced the party-nomination with Eric Chu, the KMT party chair and Taipei City mayor.

Despite the party-switch – or, perhaps, because of it – Eric Chu never gained ground against Tsai. The party seemed to weaken further with the announcements of the vice presidential candidates: Tsai running mate was Academia Sinica Vice President Chen Chien-jen; Chu selected former labour minister, Jennifer Wang, while Soong’s vice-presidential nominee was Hsu Hsin-ying, chair of the newly formed Republic Party. Of the three vice-presidential nominees, Wang was the most controversial, igniting protests over her labour-rights record.

The presidential inauguration will be held on May 20, 2016. Meanwhile, the president-elect is busy getting her cabinet in order in the presidential-parliamentary system. 1 Optimism – and expectations — run high for the new president.


  1. Elgie, Robert. “List of president-parliamentary and premier-presidential systems.” August 12, 2014. http://presidential-power.com/?p=1757

Taiwan – Presidential Election 2016: Nominating the Candidates

Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for Taiwan in January 2016. With just six months of electioneering ahead, the races – particularly the presidential race – appear muted, due in no small part to the lack of competition for the party nomination. This lack of intraparty competition seems surprising, given that the two-term incumbent, President Ma Jing-yeou, is hugely unpopular. For the opposition, a nomination – particularly in light of the landslide elections against the governing party in the nine-in-one local elections in November, 2014 – provides unprecedented tailwinds to a presidential campaign. For the ruling party, the unpopularity of the incumbent president provides an opportunity to steer an independent direction that departs from well-worn tracks. Given such promising beginnings, the dearth of candidates is curious. At the same time, it also calls attention to the candidates who are currently in or expected to run in the presidential race.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officially nominated party-chair, Tsai Ing-wen, as presidential nominee on April 15, 2015. Tsai was the only candidate to throw her hat in the ring for the party nomination; as a result, the party skipped party primaries altogether. Tsai contested the presidential elections in 2012 but lost to the Kuomintang (KMT) candidate, Ma Jing-yeou. This time round, her odds look considerably better: as an indication, strong contenders for the DPP party-chair race in 2014 – Su Tseng-chang and former premier Frank Hsieh – dropped out of that race to essential cede the position to Tsai. Su was expected to contest the DPP presidential nomination, as was Tainan mayor, William Lai Ching-te; however, neither came to pass. Indeed, the popular Tainan mayor advocated for the party to unite behind Tsai’s candidacy on a facebook post.

On the KMT front, two hopefuls threw in their names by the party primary registration deadline: Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu, and former Health Minister Tang Chih-liang. Only one, Deputy Speaker Hung, passed the party threshold of 15,000 votes to proceed to the next phase of the party nomination, the opinion polls, where she will need to receive at least 30 percent support in order to be nominated as party candidate. If Hung fails to pass that threshold, then the party may draft a candidate for the party nomination directly. Two possible contenders, if that should come to pass, are: Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng and New Taipei City Mayor and party chair Eric Chu. While Chu had steadfastly rejected the possibility of running for the presidency, Wang has been coy: on May 15, a day before the party primary deadline, he “thanked and apologized” to supporters without explicitly rejecting the possibility of a presidential run.

Besides candidates from the two main parties, an independent candidate – former DPP Chair Shih Ming-teh – has announced his candidacy. The former opposition leader, a political prisoner for 25 years, is rumoured to have talked to former presidential candidate for the 2012 elections, James Soong, about a possible joint-ticket. The independent has already vowed to form a coalition cabinet if successful. Shih will need 270,000 signatures as endorsement to be eligible as presidential candidate.

Taiwan – By-elections 2015: Results and Lessons

The February 2015 by-elections saw contestation of five legislative seats vacated following success in the 9-in-1 local elections in November 2014. The electoral routing of the Kuomintang (KMT) party in November raised the possibility of a similar Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) dominance in the by-elections. That did not come to be: the elections saw both parties retain seats previously held by their respective parties, with three going to the DPP and two to KMT. The legislative composition is unchanged: the 113-seat legislature has 64 seats for the KMT and 40 for the DPP. The newly-elected legislators will serve short-terms until the next national legislative elections in January 2016. Turnout was low, averaging mid-30 percent, with the lowest in Taichung (30.76 percent) and the highest in Nantou (37.07 percent). The low turnout was probably not unexpected given by-elections, although it was likely affected further by TransAsia air crash tragedy, and low-key or cancelled campaigns in the final week of the race due to the tragedy.

What lessons do the by-elections hold? The status-quo outcome, following the disproportionate loss for the KMT in the local elections, suggests lessons for both parties: first, President Ma’s unpopularity does not translate into electoral liability if his influence in the KMT is dialled-back; second, the DPP’s electoral viability rests on progress beyond an anti-President Ma platform.

Going into the by-elections, the KMT took significant steps to address President Ma’s unpopularity to diminish the electoral liability. Following President Ma’s resignation as party-leader, the KMT elected Eric Chu, New Taipei City mayor, as new party leader. Thus far, Chu has signalled a move towards greater transparency in a bid to woo support for the party; for instance, he launched a probe into the KMT assets, which party-elders had resisted. Along the same lines, the KMT party-leader has also indicated that the party may rescind its case to oust legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng, a flashpoint of public disapproval for the KMT. The KMT government has also granted medical parole for former President Chen Shui-bian, also widely seen as a reconciliatory effort across party lines that also redeems the KMT’s public standing. These efforts have stemmed additional political backlash, as the by-election results indicate. If the KMT and its political leaders make further inroads on transparency and responsiveness to the public, the party is likely to gain electoral viability for the 2016 elections.

The DPP was optimistic going into the by-elections, and party-chair and possible 2016-presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen actively campaigned for the five DPP legislative contenders. However, the party suffered from its decision to withdraw its DPP candidate, Wu Yi-chen, to back former Sunflower movement student leader Chen Wei-ting as an independent in the Miaoli county district. When Chen dropped out of the race because of previous sexual harassment incidents, the party scrambled for a replacement, ultimately returning to Wu as the party candidate. Wu garnered a respectable 32,966 votes against KMT’s Hsu Chih-jung (47,105) in a KMT-traditional stronghold. Still, the episode – in the context of the overall by-election outcomes – underlines the DPP’s electoral viability for 2016 rests beyond anti-President Ma sentiments.

Taiwan – Election results from the 9-in-1 local elections

November 29, 2014 saw the first “block” 9-in-1 local elections in Taiwan, where nine elections were held concurrently on the same day. A total of 11,130 seats were up for grabs, including:

–         6 seats for Municipal Mayors and 16 seats for County Magistrates (City Mayors)

–         375 seats for Municipal Councilors, 50 seats for Councilors of indigenous districts in municipalities, and 532 seats for County (City) Councilors

–         6 seats for Chiefs of indigenous districts in municipalities, and 198 seats for Township Chiefs

–         2,096 seats for Township Councilors and 7,851 seats for chiefs of village (borough)


Of particular interests are the 22 city- and county-mayoral contests, since these make up most of the country’s largest cities. The elections saw a routing of the governing Kuomintang (KMT): the KMT previously held 15 of Taiwan’s but won just six seats in this election. The Democratic Progressive Party took 13, including four of Taiwan’s six special municipalities, with the DPP-backed independent Ko Wen-je taking the KMT-stronghold of Taipei.

Electoral statistics released by the Central Election Commission, tabulated below, shows the DPP’s decided wins in its traditional strongholds – such as Chen Chu’s 70.4 percent of the electoral votes in Kaohsiung – while the KMT’s wins are more marginal.

election outcomes 9-in-1 2014

Analyses of the results have already begun, with many holding the line that the results signify a rejection of President Ma Ying-jeou’s leadership of the country and the party. In particular, the KMT’s losses in several of its traditional strong-holds – including Taipei to independent Ko Wen-je, and Chiayi county to DPP’s Twu Shing-jer – represent significant, or even unexpected, setbacks.

Already, the semi-presidential system has seen the fallout from the election results: Premier Jiang Yi-huah and 88-members have tendered a mass cabinet resignation to take responsibility, with KMT party members vocalizing the need for a change in the chair. President Ma announced that he would resign as chair at the KMT Central Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014.

At a minimum, the election results suggest competitive elections in 2016, as the KMT  remakes itself to woo voters while challengers to the KMT surge following the boost of confidence, if not as DPP-members, then as independents,