Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party hopes its new chairman will be able to shore up its fortunes after losing key races in local elections last November.
Eric Chu, a 54-year-old moderate, is expected to be named to the post on Saturday, after he was re-elected mayor of New Taipei City, a municipality that surrounds the capital, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Analysts said the party, also known as Kuomintang or KMT, suffered a drubbing in the last polls as voters felt it failed to deliver broad-based prosperity. They were also concerned over President Ma Ying-jeou’s efforts to foster closer economic ties with China, the newspaper said.
“Failure to revitalize the economy is the main reason why voters disliked KMT in November, but another reason is people fear that under the KMT, Taiwan was becoming too submissive to China,” said Wu Jieh-ming, a researcher at Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s top academic research institute.
While the island’s economy grew 3.43 percent last year, critics say Ma’s policy of engagement with Beijing has widened divisions in the local political scene and brought to the fore long-standing issues such as stagnant wages, dim job prospects for the younger generation and lagging competitiveness against China, the report said.
Chu, a former accounting professor and the son-in-law of a prominent KMT figure, has been seen as a level-headed leader with mass appeal. He has avoided making solid views on cross-strait relations that could mar his image as a centrist politician, the newspaper said.
As party chief, his chief role will be to improve the KMT’s image and fortify its ranks against the opposition Democratic Progressive Party in next year’s elections.
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