New party announced by Taipei mayor a setback to DPP: scholar - Focus Taiwan

New party announced by Taipei mayor a setback to DPP: scholar

Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) An announcement by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) that he plans to establish a new political party to contend the January 2020 legislative election will have a greater impact on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) than the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), a Kaohsiung-based scholar said Wednesday.

Liao Da-chi (廖達琪), a political science professor at National Sun Yat-sen University, told CNA that although Ko has managed to appeal to both "pan-green" (DPP-allied) and "pan-blue" (KMT-affiliated) voters, the newly announced Taiwanese People's Party represents a more immediate threat to the DPP and President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) re-election prospects because the mayor has proven to be particularly adept at appealing to "light greens" -- less pro-independence minded voters -- and young people, which has been a major focus for President Tsai.

News of Ko's plan to form a political party first broke Wednesday, when the Ministry of the Interior confirmed it had been informed by the mayor about a plan to hold a meeting on Aug. 6 to establish the party.

"I hope Taiwan will become better because of us," Ko, widely regarded as an undeclared wild card for the 2020 presidential election, told the media Thursday.

Liao said she believes that by forming a party, Ko has his eyes set firmly on the joint presidential and legislative election in January 2020.

However, running for the presidency will only be beneficial for Ko, Liao pointed out, if he can attract support from the pan blue camp by collaborating with Foxconn founder Terry Gou(郭台銘), who was defeated by Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in the KMT presidential primary in July.

Even if he is not elected president, Ko can still continue his term as mayor of Taipei, Liao said, adding that the political calculation is probably that this is his best chance to win the presidency.

In addition, Taiwan's political landscape is likely to be dominated by the DPP, KMT and Taiwanese People's Party in 2020, making the survival of smaller parties such as the New Power Party (NPP) much harder, Liao said.

Meanwhile, Peng Huei-en (彭懷恩), a part-time visiting professor in Shih Hsin University's Department of Journalism, suggested Ko is smart to announce the launch of a new party at a time when support for Tsai and her administration has dropped following a cigarette smuggling scandal.

However, Peng is unsure if forming a party is a wise move as Ko rose to power in 2014 partly because Taiwanese were tired of partisan bickering.

Echoing Liao, Peng said he believes that the launch of the new party paves the way for Ko to enter the presidential race and he "will certainly run."

According to Peng, Ko's party could attract more than 15 percent of voters in the upcoming legislative election and possibly replace the NPP as the third-largest party in Taiwan's legislature.

Given that the Taiwanese People's Party will squeeze the space available to other political parties and the NPP is currently split, Peng said, whether Ko's party will work with the NPP remains to be seen.

(By Ku Chuanand Chung Yu-chen)


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