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James Soong announces presidential bid (update)

2015/08/06 10:53:16

Taipei, Aug. 6 (CNA) James Soong (宋楚瑜), chairman of Taiwan's minority People First Party (PFP), announced Thursday that he will run in the presidential election to be held next January to help the country rise above political confrontations and to "find a roadmap for Taiwan's future."

Soong, 73, made the announcement as Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), candidate of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), appears to enjoy a healthy lead over the ruling Kuomintang's (KMT's) Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) in the race to succeed President Ma Ying-jeou, who will step down next May after two four-year terms.

Reading from a statement, Soong promised that if he wins the election, he will strive to forge a consensus among political parties in order to resolve the thorny issues that have dogged Taiwan for years.

He said he will try to lay a stable foundation for the country's development by pushing for constitutional reforms and to end the monopoly of power by a single party by forming a "grand coalition" government.

On Taiwan's relations with China, Soong said that he will try to build a framework for the sustainable development of peaceful relations across the Taiwan Strait.

Observers say that Soong is likely to attract some voters who would otherwise vote for Tsai or Hung in the Jan. 16 election. He could also win the support of those who do not like either of the major candidates.

It will be Soong's third presidential bid after running unsuccessfully in 2000 as an independent and in 2012 as PFP chief. The charismatic former governor of Taiwan received 36.84 percent and 2.76 percent of the votes, respectively, in those two elections.

He was then-KMT Chairman Lien Chan's vice presidential candidate in 2004, when they collected 49.89 percent of the votes, only to be beaten by incumbent Chen Shui-bian with 50.11 percent in an election marred by a shooting incident on the eve of the poll.

(By Lu Shin-hui and Jay Chen)