Legislator Chiang Chi-chen elected KMT chairman

Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣)(NOWnews)
Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣)(NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Legislator Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣) was elected chairman of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), at a time when the party needs to gain more popular support after being convincingly defeated in both presidential and legislative elections in January.

Chiang received 84,860 votes, while his sole opponent, former Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), garnered 38,483 votes, with registered KMT members voting from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at more than 270 local KMT chapters and other designated areas across the country.

The result was announced at 7:20 p.m. at KMT headquarters.

“I will settle the assignment of key positions within the party and implement my campaign slogan ‘KMT Redesign’ at the earliest possible time, which will involve the reform of party affairs, adjustment of party direction and cultivation of new talent for the party,” Chiang said in his victory speech.

He vowed to focus more on local level work and to restore the “lost glory” of the KMT by furthering democracy and defending the country.

Chiang, 48, is a U.S.-educated politician who entered politics in 2010 when he was appointed minister of the Government Information Office under the Executive Yuan.

He has won a legislative seat in the 8th electoral district in Taichung City at three consecutive elections since 2012 and received more votes that any other KMT candidate in the 2020 legislative election.

Hau conceded through a statement posted on his Facebook page, congratulating Chiang and wishing him success in leading party reforms and rebuilding the trust of grassroots members.

Voter turnout in Taiwan and its outlying islands was 35.85 percent, with 124,019 voting out of 345,971 eligible voters, compared with 58.05 percent in the 2017 KMT chairman election, in which about 276,423 out of 476,147 cast ballots.

Observers believe this was mainly due to fear over the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, fewer places to vote compared with 2017 and a lack of enthusiasm for party affairs.

Former KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) stepped down four days after the party’s defeat in the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections.

At a post-presidential election workshop held Jan. 13 in Taipei, Kharis Templeman, adviser to the Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said the KMT needs younger candidates who can speak the language of people under 40 and its new party chairman needs to focus on a youth strategy.

The KMT also needs to adjust its position on key issues related to relations with China, such as the 1992 consensus, due to its seeming detachment from reality, Templeman further said at that time.