THE KUOMINTANG’S DILEMMA
In the wake of the elections, all parties are left with important issues to reflect on, but perhaps none more so than the KMT.
The KMT is internally conflicted in its position on China, and must resolve this dilemma if it is to stay relevant and have a hope of returning to the presidency, experts said.
This was encapsulated in an incident a few days before the election. Former president Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT said in an interview that Taiwan “can never win” in a war against China, and that it has no choice but to trust President Xi Jinping on cross-strait issues.
The view that Mr Ma expressed cost the KMT votes, said Dr Ding, adding that the party does not realise that the “1992 consensus” – the “one China” principle – no longer has popular support in Taiwan.
“Instead of pointing fingers at the other party, they need to really think about how they can help to get rid of Ma’s influence,” said the professor.
Mr Hou ran quite a different campaign from past KMT candidates, trying to strike a balance between the party’s traditional base of nationalist supporters and appealing to more “Taiwanese-identifying” voters, said Dr Tsai Chia-hung of the National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center.
But KMT politicians face structural limits because of their constituents, who are usually older and believe that China provides the answer to any issue Taiwan faces, said Dr Chen.
This puts in place a “strong limit” on the policy choices the KMT’s candidates can make, and can even be a ceiling on its vote share, he added.
Going forward, Dr Chen said he saw less opportunity for the KMT to gain political ground, and that it would become less influential in Taiwan’s politics.
It appears that some party members, though, are aware of what needs to change.
KMT legislator Lee Guei-min, who provided election commentary on broadcaster TVBS, said: “The KMT needs to reflect deeply on itself and find ways to get the votes of middle-ground voters, young people and women, so that people can feel its transformation.”