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Former legislative speaker withdraws presidential bid

2019/11/12 15:05:18

Former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng

Taipei, Nov. 12 (CNA) Former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) said Tuesday he no longer intends to run in the 2020 presidential race.

Wang made the announcement at an impromptu news conference, and offered an apology and expressed his gratitude to his supporters who long anticipated his participation in the election.

"Although my withdrawal from the race is a regret, the decision does not mean an end to everything. Instead, I will enter the next stage of my life," the 78-year-old Wang said.

"I will shoulder a bigger responsibility, and as a pure voter, I can take advantage of my long-term (political) experience and will continue to serve society."

Wang had continually insisted he would run for president since first announcing his desire to run on March 7.

As a KMT member, he first expressed an interest to run in the party's presidential primary, which consisted solely of opinion polls.

But he pulled out of the July primary in June after being highly critical of how the KMT was handling it and the rules being used, which he argued seem to favor some candidates over others.

Instead of competing in the KMT primary, he said he would take part in an "odd" primary process in which he planned to reach out to grassroots supporters.

That "odd" process never materialized, however, and he never announced he would run for president as an independent.

He did reach out to business tycoon Terry Gou (郭台銘), who was also disillusioned with the KMT primary process after finishing second to the eventual winner, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) to form an alliance and work together to "improve the country."

That raised speculation that an independent presidential ticket could emerge from some combination of the three figures, but Gou and Ko later decided not to pursue a presidential bid.

Wang had also waited for a possible presidential nomination by the People First Party (PFP), a minor opposition political party, but such hopes were dashed when PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) decided again to run in the race.

Wang confirmed at the news conference that he had spoken with Soong, who told the former legislative speaker that he will run for president.

"In the past eight months, the presidential election has been full of empty words, lies and fake agendas without real national policies," Wang said, "Taiwan is exhausted, as the country has been manipulated by politicians."

The decision may also have come down to Wang lacking a strong base of support. In opinion polls leading up the KMT primary, Wang generally trailed Han, Gou and the eventual third-place finisher, former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫).

As legislative speaker, he was better known for behind-the-scenes political maneuvering than for drumming up popular support, and had not actually run in an election in a constituency since 2001.

In the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 legislatives, he reached the lawmaking body as a legislator-at-large as part of the KMT's slate of candidates.

When asked which candidate he will support in the 2020 race, Wang said he would endorse a candidate who has ideas similar to his for running the country.

So far, however, no candidates have presented good national policies, and they have failed to meet voters' expectations, Wang said.

Only incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the KMT's Han have formally registered to run in the race at present. Tsai has a double-digit lead in the polls and is widely expected to win whether or not James Soong enters the race.

(By Liu Kuan-ting and Frances Huang)
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