Former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu was elected KMT chairman on Saturday. On Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a letter to congratulate Chu and reiterate the CCP''s wish to collaborate on reunification efforts on the basis of the 1992 Consensus. Chu''s victory, however, was met with some biting remarks from fellow candidate Chang Ya-chung. The populist, pro-unification candidate, who received a third of the votes, said Chu had won through a smear campaign.

As soon as victory was announced, Eric Chu kicked off his road show to thank supporters. His first stop was Taoyuan, where his political career began. Despite the celebration, not everyone in the party was happy with the election results.

Chang Ya-chung

President, Sun Yat-Sen School

(Chu won the race) through a smear campaign, labeling me corrupt and Communist, and worse still, he adopted tactical voting. The winner should really think long and hard about what he did to win. As the saying goes, you reap what you sow. How you won this election will determine how you will govern the party going forward.

Eric Chu

KMT chairman-elect

Yesterday, I called Professor Chang to thank him. In the next few days, I will also pay him a personal visit.

This time, Chu only secured 45% of all votes.

Back in 2014, when Chu was elected to the same position, he garnered a record-breaking 99% of votes. His successors since have all amassed more than 50% of the vote count. This time though, not only did Chu hit a record-low, he had less than half of the party members standing with him.

Lo Chih-cheng

Legislator (DPP)

Eric Chu did not get more than half of the votes. His strongest support likely came from the wider society. However, if he continued on an extremist path, that would certainly harm his leadership and even the party as a whole.

In his upcoming term, Chu will have to shoulder the burden of unifying the different voices within the party and also bear the pressure from Beijing.

It wasn’t until the following day that Chinese President Xi Jinping extended his congratulations. In the letter, Xi underscored the CCP’s insistence on the 1992 Consensus and opposition to Taiwan independence. He also urged the KMT to collaborate on reunification efforts.

Eric Chu

KMT chairman-elect

I will stand by the words of our party charter and policy guidelines, to uphold the 1992 Consensus and oppose Taiwan independence. While we seek common ground, we also maintain some differences, and in the future, we hope that we can mutually respect our differences. All of that was included in my reply.

Does Chu’s victory herald a new era of revitalization for the KMT, or does it signal a minority-elected leader’s confrontation with the party’s internal division? Before he can start working on a blueprint for the upcoming local elections in 2022 and the presidential election in 2024, he may have to first address the dual challenge of deepening fault lines in his party and Beijing’s pressure for reunification.