Taiwan’s governing party has taken the drastic step of replacing its candidate for January’s presidential election, reflecting growing unease about its candidate’s plans for closer relations with the mainland.
At an emergency meeting on Saturday, delegates from the Kuomintang or Nationalist party voted to replace Hung Hsiu-chu, the straight-talking legislator who polls showed was trailing Democratic Progressive party candidate Tsai Ing-wen.
The all-female election would have been a first for Taiwan and guaranteed the election of its first female president. But analysts say Ms Hung’s views on cross-strait relations, including advocating a peace treaty with China, made voters uneasy.
“Her views on Taiwan's future relations with China were out of step with mainstream opinion in Taiwan. They went beyond what most Taiwanese — KMT voters included — are willing to countenance,” said J Michael Cole of Thinking Taiwan, a think-tank backed by Ms Tsai’s foundation.
“Taiwanese were generally OK with liberalisation of cross-strait ties, but they have drawn clear lines and Ms Hung was threatening to cross those.”
Current president Ma Ying-jeou, who will complete his second four-year term next year, generally improved relations with China, but recently plans for a trade agreement sparked opposition. That proposal contributed to the KMT suffering big losses in local elections in November.
The Kuomintang party said that the decision was intended to “cope with a severe test of the party's survival and development”. Some candidates and village chiefs had refused to run under the KMT flag or support the party with Ms Hung in charge.
If the January 16 election goes as polls now predict, the DPP could win the presidency and a majority in the legislature for the first time.
At the meeting on Saturday, 812 of 891 delegates voted to remove Ms Hung. She will be replaced by Eric Chu, KMT’s chairman and mayor of New Taipei. Mr Chu and other KMT heavyweights had declined to challenge Ms Hung for the nomination in July.
在上周六举行的一次紧急会议上，国民党(KMT)的代表们投票换下直言不讳的立委洪秀柱(Hung Hsiu-chu,上图)。民调显示，她的支持率不及民进党(DPP)候选人蔡英文(Tsai Ing-wen)。
由蔡英文旗下基金会支持的智库——想想论坛(Thinking Taiwan)的寇谧将(J. Michael Cole)表示：“她对于台湾未来与大陆关系的看法与台湾主流民意不符。这些看法超出了多数台湾人（包括国民党选民）愿意认同的限度。”