After the general public turned against the KMT on the 1992 Consensus, the party finally is acknowledging it has become toxic electorally. But what can they do about it?
The KMT traces its origins to revolutionary societies in China that overthrew the Manchurian Qing court and established the Republic of China in 1912. At the time, Taiwan was part of the Japanese Empire. After World War II, Taiwan became an Allied protectorate administered by the ROC, while the United States administered Japan proper. After the ROC government lost the Chinese civil war, it fled to Taiwan and established a government-in-exile in Taipei.
The KMT has long been dominated by those Chinese KMT exiles and their descendents. Traditionally those party elites have identified as wholly or in part as Chinese, though the latest generation is moving away from that. The population in Taiwan prior to the KMT’s arrival, and their descendants, identify far more strongly as simply Taiwanese. While virtually no KMT members today think the ROC will reclaim China, their ties–emotionally, politically, personally and financially–are far stronger to China than the public at large. These ties will make radical change hard to achieve in the party as many will push back hard.
But the new incoming chair will have to face the reality that the public is firmly against the 1992 Consensus, has absolutely no interest in unification with the PRC, and is wary of closer ties. A political party with an ideology so far out of the mainstream simply can’t get elected to the presidency and will struggle in the legislature. Reform will have to happen, or the party faces marginalization.
Full analysis by Courtney Donovan Smith: