TAIPEI, Taiwan - President and Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou indicated his intention to quit the party chairmanship in a gesture acknowledging responsibility for the unprecedented election defeat the KMT suffered on Saturday.
The party managed to hold only six of the 23 city and county governments nationwide. Of the nation's six special municipalities, the KMT won only New Taipei City and by a narrow margin.
By renouncing their support for pan-blue candidates, observers believe voters were expressing discontent toward the central government. Election results turned out to be much worse than the KMT expected and many regard Ma as the main culprit.
As elections drew to a close on Saturday night, Ma gave a public speech in which he stated that he has received the voters' message. "My responsibility at this moment is to propose reforms as soon as possible in order to answer the people's demand. I will not evade any responsibility," Ma said.
However, this statement enraged many who believe that Ma, as KMT chairman, should take the most blame for the election debacle and step down immediately. Ma's failure to do so was considered "shameless" and "stubborn" by some critics.
Ma Tried to Maintain KMT Morale
KMT spokesman Charles Chen said yesterday that Ma will "never be reluctant to leave his (chairman) position and will accept the required responsibility." The KMT's central standing committee will make "major announcements" on Wednesday, Chen said.
Both Premier Jiang Yi-huah and KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan resigned on Saturday to assume responsibility for the party's heavy defeat. However, the moves did not pacify all, as some KMT supporters, including Legislator Lo Shu-lei , called on Ma to step down as chairman.
According to the president's close aid, Ma believed that he had to stay calm and maintain morale when his party encountered the defeat. That is why he encouraged KMT members and supporters to stay strong, be united in times of uncertainty, have faith in the country and not be disappointed, the aid said.
Many Others Also to Share Blame
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin also expressed his intention to quit as KMT vice chairman yesterday to share in the responsibility.
The Executive Yuan is scheduled to hold a meeting today, and up to 81 government officials are expected to submit their resignations to share responsibility for the electoral loss.
Taichung Mayor Jason Hu, who suffered a loss in his re-election bid, said yesterday that he would not quit his post as KMT vice chairman. "Now is the time to stay put and help the party recoup itself," he said.
Vice President Wu Den-yih and New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu are also vice chairmen of the ruling party. They are perceived as possible candidates to succeed Ma as the new chairman.