TAIPEI, Taiwan – The Kuomintang (KMT) will choose its seventh chairman in an election between four candidates on Saturday. Results are expected to be known by 7 p.m., while the party’s new leader could take office as early as Monday.
Candidates for the leadership include former Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu, Legislator Chen Shei-saint, Taipei City Councilor Lee Hsin and current acting Chairwoman Huang Min-hui. All four candidates made last-minute campaign stops on Friday in search of support among the party base. There are 337,148 KMT party members who will be eligible to cast their vote tomorrow at 476 polling stations nationwide.
Due to the higher number of candidates involved in Saturday’s race, the party will automatically initiate a second round of voting if the winner fails to garner over 50 per cent of the total vote.
Though Hung and Huang (seen as the front-runners) have called for the contest to be determined in the first round, analysts believe that the likelihood of a second round is not out of the question if Lee and Chen can each garner 10 per cent of the vote. Second round voting has been prescheduled to take place on April 16.
The party’s last elected leader, current New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu, stepped down after the party’s bruising electoral defeat this January in which he ran as president. Chu’s popularity took a dive when he replaced Hung as the party’s formally chosen presidential candidate breaking earlier promises that he would not run.
On Friday, Lee urged all party members to come out to vote, but also to bring their smartphones to “record and verify” that vote counting proceeded fraudulent-free. He has already accused the party of violating principles of neutrality, saying that local party chapters used resources to endorse a single candidate. He said that many party members told him that the party has never produced authentic numbers when it came to votes cast and tallied.
Huang on the other hand brandished her past electoral successes in traditionally pan-green areas, where she once served as mayor of Chiayi City. As the youngest of all four candidates, she said that “improving the KMT would also improve the country as a whole.”
Chen said Friday he would focus on coming in second in order to force the second round of voting.
Hung added while campaigning in New Taipei that “time was not on the party’s side” and that it would be best if a winner was determined in the first round of voting.