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Taiwan’s opposition parties to team up in parliamentary election

Ko Wen-je, chairman of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), is running for president in the island's January polls
Ko Wen-je, chairman of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), is running for president in the island's January polls - Copyright AFP I-Hwa Cheng
Ko Wen-je, chairman of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), is running for president in the island's January polls - Copyright AFP I-Hwa Cheng

Taiwan’s two leading opposition parties agreed Monday to team up for January’s parliamentary elections, but they stopped short on joining forces for a presidential ticket. 

The announcement followed a meeting between Eric Chu, chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), and Taiwan People’s Party’s (TPP) Ko Wen-je, who is running for president in the January polls when voters will also elect a new parliament.

Vice President Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is currently the frontrunner, while opposition supporters have pinned their hopes on an alliance between Ko and KMT’s candidate Hou Yu-ih to end the DPP’s eight years in power.

But the opposition parties said that Monday’s discussions focused more on the legislative elections.

“We hope to maximise our seats in parliament. Our joint goal is to secure over half of the seats so we can work after regaining ruling power,” Chu said.

Currently, the DPP holds the majority in Taiwan’s 113-seat parliament with 62 seats, while KMT has 37 and TPP has five.

The KMT and TPP, both favouring friendlier ties with China, also aim to “restore peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait and start dialogue with China, they said in a joint statement.

Beijing, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, has ratcheted up pressure on the island and cut communication with the DPP government since it came to power in 2016.

Ko and Hou’s campaign staff met earlier this month to discuss a possible joint presidential bid, but ended up trading barbs over how to determine who should head the ticket.

“As for the president, everyone hopes to work towards the goal of cooperation,” Chu told reporters, adding they hope for sit-down talks to happen “as soon as possible”.

Ko, appearing to strike a conciliatory tone, said that both parties “still respect each other’s opinions”.

“Our consensus is that we should resolve what can be resolved first,” he added.

The former Taipei city mayor favours opinion polls to pick the presidential candidate if the parties were to join forces, and has criticised the KMT’s preference for an “open primary”.

During a briefing with foreign media last week, Ko said an alliance with KMT under those rules would be akin to a “forced marriage”. 

AFP
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