TAIPEI (CNA) — Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) resigned Wednesday effective immediately, amid heated protests outside the headquarters by younger party members calling for reform following the party’s crushing defeat in the Jan. 11 elections.
The KMT’s presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) lost by nearly 20 percent to incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in the presidential election, and the party took only 38 of the 113 legislative seats. Although that performance represented an increase of three seats and 6 percent more ballots in the party vote, it was still far below the majority Wu had vowed to achieve.
To shoulder responsibility for the failure, Wu and other top-ranking party members resigned en masse. Those resigning included the party Vice Chairman and Secretary General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), and Vice Chairman and former Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).
KMT Deputy Secretary-General Tu Chien-teh (杜建德) and acting Director-General of the KMT’s Cultural and Communications Committee Cheng Mei-hua (程美華) also resigned with Wu at the party Central Standing Committee meeting held that day.
Wu apologized to the party at the meeting for the results of the election, but said the KMT will unite and persevere.
The KMT has also failed in the past, but will never lose sight of our aspirations, Wu said.
Until the party elects a new Chairman on March 7., Lin Jung-te (林榮德), a member of the Central Standing Committee, will serve as KMT interim Chairman, assisted by interim Secretary General Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗), the party’s caucus whip.
Also at the meeting Wednesday, the party’s Organizational Development Committee released a report listing seven reasons for its defeat in the elections.
These include a growing sense of impending doom felt by Taiwanese people, a cross-strait policy that failed to respond to the current times, attacks on Han’s image, poor campaigning strategies, a lack of party unity, a lackluster legislator-at-large nominees list,and failure to gain support from young voters.
Outside the KMT headquarters, young KMT party members called for reform within the party.
Lin Chia-hsing (林家興), former head of the KMT Youth League, led a group of protesters that stormed the KMT headquarters after calling for reforms to the party’s leadership, values, cross-strait policies, and decision-making structure.
The group chanted slogans outside of the Central Standing Committee meeting room and scuffled with security personnel before being expelled from the building.
Some protesters continued to protest outside and chanted, “This is how the KMT treats young people, by driving them out of the headquarters.”
Four KMT city and county councilors from central and southern Taiwan also proposed plans for reform outside the party headquarters, saying that reform efforts should be lead by mayors, county magistrates, and legislators, as these are popularly elected officials.
Meanwhile, five New Taipei City KMT councilors held a press conference to announce their recommendations to the party.
Proposing reforms to the party’s leadership, Councilor Liao Hsien-hsiang (廖先翔) said that leadership positions including Chairman, should be held by younger members.
Another suggestion Liao made concerned the party’s decision-making body, noting that business people currently outnumber elected public officials on the Central Standing Committee, a situation that has to change.
Councilors Nikar‧Falong (宋雨蓁), Wang Wei-yuan (王威元) and Liu Mei-fang (劉美芳) proposed measures to encourage more young people to join the KMT and attract younger voters.
Falong recommended organizing youth activities, while Wang pushed for a youth group within the KMT that would issue opinions on political happenings and cooperate with local elected officials to promote their achievements in office.
Liu proposed recruiting young people with an interest in politics, so they can run in local elections under the KMT flag in 2022.
Under this plan, the KMT will assist these newcomers from training to campaign planning, Liu said, which will hopefully change people’s impression of the KMT as the party of old people.