TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An estimated 370,000 members of the main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT) can take part in an election Saturday (Sept. 25) to choose a new leader.
Incumbent Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), a 49-year-old lawmaker from Taichung, is fighting off a challenge from former KMT Chairman and presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) 60; former Changhua County chief Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源), 56; and political scientist Chang Ya-chung (張亞中), 66.
The youngest of the four, Chiang has tried to reform the party and has recently focused on campaigns for referendums linked to food safety issues. Chu has relied on his high profile as a former vice premier and head of local governments in Taoyuan and New Taipei. He also served as KMT leader from 2015 to 2016 and ran in the 2016 presidential election.
While Chang is the least known of the four, his proposal to sign a peace accord with China has attracted widespread attention, with some polls showing him gaining ground but his rivals accusing him of extremism. Beijing’s crackdown on democracy supporters in Hong Kong and the repeated incursions by its warplanes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) have made rapprochement with China an unpopular stance, commentators said.
Chiang estimated that between 40% and 50% of eligible voters would cast a ballot Saturday, CNA reported. The final result is expected to be clear by 6 p.m., two hours after polling stations close, but the next chairman will have to wait until Oct. 30 to take office.