Chiang Kai-shek was loved by many and hated by many. He could take solace in the fact that the majority of the Kuomintang backed him for President. Presidential elections in the Republic of China were decided not by the popular vote, but by the National Assembly . Just like presidential elections, the Republic of China Constitution in 1947 stipulated that National Assembly elections would occur every six years. In 1953, the Kuomintang once again won an overwhelming majority of seats in the National Assembly. This meant that any serious challenge to Chiang Kai-shek’s reelection the following year would have to come from within the Kuomintang. There would be a high-profile challenger from within the KMT, Vice President Li Zongren. Li Zongren was supported by members of the National Assembly from his native Guangxi Province and also by people who didn’t particularly like Chiang Kai-shek. He and Chiang were not on the best of terms, and Chiang believed that Li had been too conciliatory towards the Communists.
Chiang Kai-shek overwhelmingly won the presidential vote with over 80% of delegates supporting him. This came as a surprise to no one, including Li Zongren and his supporters (Li didn’t actually seek out the presidency, he was merely nominated by a group of anti-Chiang politicians). Just as in 1948, the election for vice president was much more competitive. And just like in 1948, Chiang Kai-shek supported Sun Fo over Li Zongren. General Yan Xishan was a serious contender for vice president as well. There were also two minor candidates. There was Lei Chen, a pro-Democracy member of the Legislative Yuan from Zhejiang and Xu Fulin, a member of the Legislative Yuan and leader of the China Democratic Socialist Party. With the exception of Xu Fulin, all candidates were affiliated with the Kuomintang.
On the first ballot, Sun Fo came in first place with 1,311 votes. Li Zongren came in second with 882. Yan Xishan received 460 votes, Xu Fulin received 207 votes, and Lei Chen received 85 votes. On the second ballot, much of Yan Xishan’s support went to Sun Fo. Sun Fo received 1,552 votes, 19 more than were required to win. He would become the new Vice President in May 1954. Chen Lifu, Vice President of the Legislative Yuan, would become the new President of the Legislative Yuan. Li Zongren had been defeated, but he was not retiring from politics. He returned to Guangxi where he began to plot his way back into power. He had plenty of supporters across the country, including the warlord Bai Chongxi. Meanwhile, further west, Warlord Ma Bufang was put in command of an invasion force.
Presidential Election of 1954
|Chiang Kai-shek (KMT-Zhejiang)||2,252 (80.5%)|
|Li Zongren (KMT-Guangxi)||582 (19.1%)|
Vice Presidential Election of 1954
|First Round||Second Round|
|Sun Fo (KMT-Guangdong)||1,311 (43.1%)||1552 (51.0%)|
|Li Zongren (KMT-Guangxi)||882 (29.0%)||998 (32.8%)|
|Yan Xishan (KMT-Shanxi)||460 (15.1%)||325 (10.7%)|
|Xu Fulin (CDSP-Guangdong)||207 (6.8%)||170 (5.6%)|
|Lei Chen (KMT-Zhejiang)||85 (2.8%)|
1: Basically an electoral college that has some other powers like amending the constitution.