KMT Chairman Wu steps down after disastrous election defeat

Ex-president Ma Ying-jeou, former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu, New Taipei Mayor Hou You-yi, legislator Wayne Chiang seen as potential candidates for role

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Interim Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lin Rong-te

Interim Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lin Rong-te (CNA photo)

Update: KMT Central Standing Committee member Lin Rong-te (林榮德), not Vice Chairman Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) as originally announced, has been selected as interim chairman by the party's top decision-making body after Wu's resignation Wednesday afternoon and a heated debate in the committee.

----- Original publication time: 11:15 a.m. January 15, 2020

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT), Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), is set to join other top-ranking party members in resigning en masse on Wednesday (Jan. 15) after the party's blowout losses in Saturday's presidential and legislative elections.

After KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) conceded the race on the election night, a number of distressed KMT supporters gathered in front of the party's Taipei headquarters and shouted vehemently that Wu should be held accountable for the defeat.

This sentiment was reflected in a poll of over 3,000 pan-blue voters conducted by ETtoday between Sunday (Jan. 12) and Monday (Jan. 13). In the survey, 40 percent of respondents blamed Wu for the loss and 78 percent said he should immediately step down from the leadership role.

The date for the by-election is expected to be nailed down on Wednesday. A KMT official was quoted by CNA as saying that its Central Standing Committee is slated to hold the election on March 7 according to the party's preliminary agenda.

Young KMT legislator Wayne Chiang (蔣萬安), who won his legislative race on Saturday, resigned along with six other committee members two days after the elections, demanding reform.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese political scientist Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) announced a bid to run for chairman, and historian Wu Chih-chang (武之璋) followed suit on Tuesday.

Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), and current New Taipei Mayor Hou You-yi (候友宜) are seen as potential candidates for the leadership role. There are also voices calling for younger KMT politicians to join the race, including Wayne Chiang and Johnny Chiang (江啟臣).

Wayne Chiang, 38, is the great-grandson of former President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石). The Yale University graduate worked as a business lawyer in the U.S. prior to his political career in Taiwan. Former legislator Johnny Chiang got his master's and doctoral degrees at top American schools before embarking on his political career.

Han, who was himself recently seen as a potential candidate, announced on his Facebook fan page Jan. 13 that he will not run for chairman and that he will instead focus on his duties as Kaohsiung mayor.