Taiwan’s former vice president of the Legislative Yuan Hung Hsiu-chu has been elected as the first female leader of the Kuomintang (KMT).
It was a stunning comeback which saw her win 56.16 percent of the vote in the party leadership election which took place on Saturday, leaving her rivals — acting party chairwoman Huang Min-hui, Taipei City councillor Lee Hsin, and legislator Apollo Chen — in the dust.
The election was held following Eric Chu‘s decision to resign as Kuomintang leader after the party suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party during the general elections in January.
Hung was originally put forward as the KMT’s presidential candidate for the 2016 election after a meteoric rise at a time when other senior figures were unwilling to step up to the plate.
When it became clear that her pro-unification stance was costing the party heavily in votes, Hung was unceremoniously dumped by the party leadership, which then nominated party chairman Eric Chu instead.
Despite the change, the KMT went on to lose both the presidency and their majority in the Legislative Yuan to the DPP in a humiliating defeat, the first time this has happened in the history of Taiwan.
In a statement posted on her Facebook page following her victory, Hung promised to be a unifying force for the party as it sought to regain power. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to bend over to pick up that first brick, to lead our party, and to rebuild our home out of the rubble,” she wrote. “Of course, I know the road ahead is long and fraught with all sorts of difficulties, but I firmly believe that as long as we close ranks and pull together, I will be able to fulfill my promise.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a congratulatory note to Hung, which also included a veiled warning to president-elect Tsai Ing-wen, who is due to take power in May.
“As current cross-strait relations face new circumstances, we wish to see the two parties bear in mind national interest and well-being of compatriots, continuing to adhere to the 1992 consensus and oppose Taiwan independence,” Xi wrote in the note.
By Sarah Lin