TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The ruling Kuomintang’s Central Standing Committee on Wednesday approved a motion saying President Ma Ying-jeou could run for another term as party leader later this year.
Last week, Kuomintang lawmaker Alex Tsai said there might be legal problems because a victory for Ma might be interpreted as a third consecutive term.
Since Ma was first elected chairman in 2005 and then again in 2009, the law would consider the two terms as consecutive even though current Honorary Chairman Wu Po-hsiung was chosen as his successor in 2007 after he stepped down facing charges for corruption. Wu only completed Ma’s first term but did not serve a full term of his own, Tsai said.
After days of contradictory comments and rumors of conspiracies, the party’s CSC passed a motion by lawmaker Huang Chao-shun saying that since Ma had not served out more than half his first term, it could not be considered a full term and therefore the president was allowed to run again this year. Huang’s motion was approved by applause, without a vote.
KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan said the CSC’s decision would end the debate, because when there was no Central Committee or National Congress in session, the CSC had the power to reach decisions on such matters.
Huang said in her motion that the party rank and file had felt uncomfortable with the recent debate, and that as the economy was gradually recovering, the party should unite behind its leadership.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, on a visit to the United States, earlier denied that he was behind Tsai’s comments. Wang lost the 2005 chairmanship election to Ma and has been regularly presented as a rival or alternative to the unpopular president.
Tsai also denied he had been conspiring with Ma opponents, saying his concern was motivated by fears that a court would annul the president’s eventual re-election as KMT leader.
As the 2014 local and regional elections are approaching, KMT politicians have voiced fears that Ma’s unpopularity might turn into a crushing defeat for the ruling party. For months, opinion polls have been showing public support for the president at an all-time low of between 13 and 16 percent.
The KMT is facing a hard-fought legislative by-election in Taichung City this coming Saturday.