TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s main opposition party, once a widely feared political force, now parades through the streets in a pink pickup truck decked out with pig’s ears and a snout. It brings life-size pig models to rallies. On the floor of the island’s legislature, its members recently flung pig intestines at rival lawmakers.
The garishly porcine displays by the party, the Kuomintang, are meant to highlight one of its pet issues, the importation of American pork containing a controversial additive. But in the eyes of critics, the antics signal the identity crisis that the party, once Asia’s wealthiest, now faces.
Many see it as out of touch with modern Taiwanese life. Even worse, they see its traditional emphasis on smooth relations with mainland China as dangerously outdated, as the Communist Party under Xi Jinping takes a harder line against the island that Beijing claims as its own.
The Kuomintang has suffered lopsided electoral defeats at the hands of voters like Chen Yu-chieh, a 27-year-old website designer. “The Kuomintang’s mind-set is more conservative,” Ms. Chen said. “I don’t think I’ll vote for the Kuomintang in the next few years, unless they make drastic changes.”
Party leaders have acknowledged the problem and vowed an overhaul. They have espoused democratic values and human rights, promised to recruit younger members and better engage the public, and sought to distance the party from Beijing.
“The Kuomintang needs to keep up with the times and needs to modernize,” said Johnny Chiang, who was elected as the party’s leader last March after pledging to rejuvenate it, in an interview in Taipei. At 48 years
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