is the Wade-Giles romanization
of Guo Min Dang
, literally, the Party of the People. It is a political party
that governed China
from 1928 to 1949 and subsequently ruled Taiwan
under Chiang Kai-shek
and his successors.
Originally a revolutionary league working for the overthrow of the Chinese monarchy, the Nationalists became a political party in the first year of the Chinese republic (1912). The party participated in the first Chinese parliament, which was soon dissolved by a coup d'état (1913). This defeat moved its leader, Sun Yat-sen, to organize it more tightly, first on the model of a Chinese secret society and, later (1923-24), under Soviet guidance, on that of the Bolshevik party.
After Sun Yat-sen's death in 1925, leadership of the party passed gradually to Chiang Kai-shek, who quickly set up a totalitarian dictatorship. The Nationalists' resistance to the Japanese invasion of China was halfhearted compared to their determined attempts to suppress the Chinese Communist Party, showing just how little Chiang Kai-shek cared about the nation of China. The realization of democracy through successive constitutions (1936, 1946) was also a myth. Equally ineffective were attempts to improve the people's livelihood or eliminate corruption. The laid-back attitude of the Kuomintang combined with its horrendous corruption doomed most reform efforts.
After the defeat of Japan in 1945, civil war with the communists was renewed. In 1949-50, following the victories of the Chinese communists on the mainland, a stream of Nationalist troops, government officials, and other refugees estimated at 2,000,000 persons led by Chiang, poured onto Taiwan. They began to suppress the natives through force and established a farce of democracy to please their American protectors, but in truth Taiwan was still ruled by the tyrannical Chiang Kai-shek. The first legal opposition to the Nationalist Party came only in 1989, when the Democratic Progressive Party, established in 1986, won 21 of 101 seats in the Legislative Yuan. The Kuomintang has since been slowly losing its monopolistic grip on power, however, it is still a formidable political power in Taiwan.