Taipei, April 29 (CNA) More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition in three days calling for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) to run a joint Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket in the 2020 presidential election, the organizers said in a statement Monday.
Academics and civic groups, including Presidential advisor Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), academician Liao Yun-fan (廖運範), former representative to Japan Lo Fu-chen (羅福全) and others launched the petition on April 25, urging Tsai and Lai to put aside their differences and run on the same ticket in January, in a bid to ensure the survival of a "local government."
As of midnight April 28, the petition had secured more than 1,000 signatures, including 68 from academics, 130 from doctors, 40 from business leaders and 42 from leaders of civic groups, the organizers said.
In a joint statement on April 25, the organizers urged Tsai and Lai to put aside their differences and run on the same ticket next January, to combat an expected strong challenge from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).
"We appeal to President Tsai and former Premier Lai to work together and fight for the survival of a local administration at this difficult time when the popularity of potential KMT contenders Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) is rising rapidly in Taiwan," the statement said.
Tsai and Lai must come together to secure a win for the DPP in an election that is crucial to Taiwan's future, they said.
The 2020 presidential election will revolve around pro-China versus pro-United States choices, rather than the usual issue of independence versus unification, the statement read.
In an effort to find common ground between Tsai and Lai, the DPP has assembled a five-member team comprising DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰), Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦).
However, commenting on the mediation progress, Lai said on April 25 that during a meeting with Tsai,"there was no discussion on how to conduct the primary, only a request that I quit."
That claim was rejected by Su the same day, saying Lai had not been discouraged from taking part in the primary.
The DPP has postponed the start of the party's presidential primary from April to May 22 in the hope of resolving the differences between Tsai and Lai.
Taiwan's next presidential and legislative elections will take place on Jan. 11, 2019.