The Nationalists still have a chance to win something in January, however, and here’s how.
Party Chairman Eric Chu is widely tipped to be the new candidate. The man who’s also mayor of Taiwan’s largest city is clean as far as anyone knows, not widely disliked and occasionally described as a China moderate, meaning less outwardly eager about the Communist leadership than other senior party people. The Nationalist government of nearly eight years now has negotiated with Beijing on the principle that both sides belong to one country. The Nationalists, also dubbed the Kuomintang or KMT, rebased their government in Taiwan in the 1940s after losing China to the Communists in a civil war and technically still claim the other side just as it claims Taiwan. That one-China approach has allowed China and Taiwan to suspend six decades of hostilities in 2008 and sign 23 agreements aimed at helping trade, tourism and investment. Thing is, some in Taiwan believe the principle for talks strips Taiwan’s autonomy and worry that the deals will let China use its $10 trillion-plus GDP to lock the much smaller island in aneconomic stranglehold. China policy would go “low profile” during a Chu campaign in favor of local issues, says Hsu Yung-ming, political scientist at Soochow University in Taipei.
“Keep in mind that a key driver the Nationalist Party’s last-minute action to displace Ms. Hung is concern that the party could lose control of the legislature,” says Alan Romberg, East Asia Program director with Washington think tank the Stimson Center. “There, it strikes me that there may be some greater success from a switch, since…much of the rancor within the party comes from a sense that the top of the ticket was dragging down legislative candidates. That now may change.”
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