Taiwan Communiqué No. 67, August 1995

Presidential primaries in full swing

The DPP election marathon

On 11 June 1995, the DPP held its first round in the two-stage primary campaign for the Presidential Elections of March 1996. It consisted of a vote by party officials and delegates, with the vote of some 140 elected party officials and some 40,000 party members weighing equally.

Prof. peng Ming-min

Professor Peng Ming-min

Out of the four candidates in the first round (see "DPP Presidential hopefuls line up", in Taiwan Communiqué no. 66, pp. 9-12), two proceeded to the next round. These were Professor Peng Ming-min, a prominent scholar who lived in exile in the US from 1970 until the early 1990's, and Mr. Hsu Hsin-liang, the former chairman of DPP, who also lived in exile in the US for more than a decade.

The second phase of the primary began in July and lasts three months. It features four televised debates and 50 public debates followed by direct popular voting by those present at the debates. By allowing all eligible voters regardless of party affiliation to vote in the primary, DPP hopes to select a candidate with the broadest base of electoral support. The three-month long primary could help DPP broaden its grass roots base.

When this issue of Taiwan Communiqu went to press, a total of 23 debates had taken place. The last one was on August 17 in Taipei City. Prof. Peng had accumulated more than 75,000 votes (63%) and was leading Mr. Hsu (37%) by nearly 30,000 votes.

The KMT campaign: in hot waters

While President Lee Teng-hui has not formally announced his candidacy as the ruling party's choice for the presidential race, he is widely expected to be chosen at a Kuomintang Party Congress in the third week of August 1995.

small step for pres. lee

President Lee: "One small step for me ... but a giant leap for my presidential campaign."

Until mid-August he seemed to be in a comfortable position to win the presidency: his high popularity rating (see article on page 15) made him a virtual shoo-in. However, on 17 August 1995, Mr. Chen Li-an, the president of the Control Yuan and former defense minister, announced that he would run as an independent candidate. Mr. Chen is a second-generation mainlander, the son of former prime minister Chen Cheng, who also served as vice-president under Chiang Kai-shek.

His candidacy is expected to cut deeply into the Kuomintang's mainlander constituency, the 15% of the population of the island which came over in the 1940s with Chiang Kai-shek. This will split the Kuomintang vote, and suddenly makes a DPP victory in the elections a possibility.

The other Kuomintang member with presidential ambitions is Mr. Lin Yang-kang, who presently is an adviser to Mr. Lee, and serves as vice chairman of KMT. He previously served as president of Judicial Yuan, governor of Taiwan, mayor of Taipei, and country magistrate of Nantou. He is native Taiwanese, but has always been closely associated with the right-wing "Non-Mainstream" faction of the KMT, and thus a direct political rival of President Lee, who heads the "Mainstream" faction.

Mr. Lin is generally considered to be rather opportunistic, always eager to boost his own political ambitions at the expense of principles. The New China Party has indicated that Lin will be nominated as the party's candidate if he becomes a member.

Mr. Lin himself has indicated that he intends to run as an independent. The affiliation with the New China Party would become a liability for him because the mainlander-dominated party has little support outside Taipei City.

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