ELECTION 2024/Terry Gou to launch signature drive for independent presidential run
Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) Independent presidential contender Terry Gou (郭台銘) is poised to launch a signature drive to become a presidential candidate next week, and must submit at least 289,667 signatures by Nov. 2 to secure a place on the ballot in Taiwan's January 2024 election.
After Gou and his running mate, Tammy Lai (賴佩霞), registered for the petition at the Central Election Commission (CEC) on Sunday, the campaign office of the businessman-turned-politician announced that it will officially commence the signature drive across Taiwan on Tuesday.
In addition to gathering the required number of signatures, the founder of Hon Hai Precision Co. (Foxconn), a global electronics manufacturer and iPhone assembler, must address some hurdles to earn a place on the ballot, with one being the dual citizenship of Lai, who will need to renounce her U.S. citizenship by Nov. 24 to be eligible to run in the election.
According to Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), the spokesperson for Gou's campaign office, the seasoned actress submitted her citizenship renunciation application to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U. S. de facto embassy in Taiwan, on Friday.
However, to apply for a renunciation of U.S. citizenship, it takes seven to 10 work days for the AIT to review documents submitted before an in-person appointment, the institute's website states.
After the appointment, the application will be sent to the U.S. Department of State for a final decision, which can take up to six months, according to the AIT.
Despite the months-long process, Huang expressed confidence that Lai will complete the renunciation procedures by the deadline. He cited a previous successful precedent, that of politician Lin Ruey-shiung (林瑞雄), who received the renunciation certificate within two months after applying.
Should Gou and Lai make it onto the ballot, they will face ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) of the Kuomintang (KMT), and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in the election on Jan. 13, 2024.
A poll conducted by the online news outlet Newtalk, published on Friday (Sept. 15), just a day after the billionaire announced his running mate, revealed that the DPP's Lai led with 32.04 percent of the vote. Ko came in second with the support of 24.39 percent of voters, while Hou's support level stood at 21.09 percent, and Gou garnered 12.33 percent.
Another online news outlet My-Formosa.com's latest poll released on Thursday (Sept. 14) saw Lai polling at 36.6 percent, Ko 17.7 percent, Hou 19.9 percent and Gou 9 percent.
The two polls show that although 50 percent to 60 percent of the voters polled do not plan to vote for the ruling party's candidate and will instead vote for either Hou, Ko or Gou, the votes are split and if this trend continues, Lai will likely win because Taiwan's presidential election is decided by a simple majority.
Gou's campaign office has consistently asserted its pursuit of "opposition integration" by seeking an electoral agreement with both the TPP's Ko and the KMT's Hou. However, many believe Gou's entry into the race is likely to divide the opposition camp even more.
When asked by the press about this matter on Sunday, Huang reiterated that the office's objective is to unite the opposition and present the most formidable candidate to challenge the DPP's Lai.
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