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TPP, KMT accuse each other following first talk on collaboration

10/15/2023 09:12 PM
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Taiwan People's Party's presidential candidate Ko Wen-je speaks at a public event for his new book in Taipei Sunday. CNA photo Oct. 15, 2023
Taiwan People's Party's presidential candidate Ko Wen-je speaks at a public event for his new book in Taipei Sunday. CNA photo Oct. 15, 2023

Taipei, Oct. 15 (CNA) The Taiwan People's Party (TPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) on Sunday criticized each other over how to find the best presidential candidate to file a joint opposition ticket for the presidential election in January, a day after the two sides sat down for possible collaboration.

Several campaign officials from the KMT's presidential nominee Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) and the TPP's Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) sat down for the first time on Saturday to explore a possible electoral pact between the two parties to run against Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidate.

The TPP advocated conducting polls to see whether voters think Hou or Ko is the best candidate to represent the two parties, while the KMT proposed an open primary to do so.

Both parties agreed to decide by 12:00 p.m. Sunday on a date for a second meeting to iron out their differences.

What the KMT received from the TPP on Sunday, however, was a copy of a statement in which the TPP flatly rejected the KMT's proposal for an open primary and demanded that the KMT come up with alternatives if the two sides were to continue talks for collaboration.

The TPP said in the statement that the open primary proposal indicated that the KMT just wanted to showcase its strength in mobilizing voters for polls and that it "lacked a genuine commitment" to pushing for collaboration among opposition forces.

According to the KMT's proposal presented Saturday, polling stations would be set up in cities and counties nationwide or in the 73 legislative constituencies, with voters who have their National Identification Cards checked and who sign a statement declaring that they "identify with the political direction to form an opposition alliance to oust the DPP," eligible to vote in the primary.

In the statement, the TPP questioned the feasibility of the KMT's open primary proposal and suggested that it could potentially lead to "sampling bias."

In the event that the number of voters casting ballots in an open primary is not substantial, there could be a "lack of representation" in the polling results, the TPP said.

Secondly, it would be challenging to establish a voters list to ensure there will be no duplicate voting and fraudulent ballots, the TPP said, raising concerns about the credibility of the open primary.

Thirdly, the TPP expressed concerns about the tight timeline for preparation as there are only 26 days left until Nov. 10, the deadline proposed by the KMT for an open primary to be conducted.

Approached by reporters on Sunday, Ko said open primaries haven't been held in Taiwan for about 20 years, highlighting challenges in execution, such as expenses, sampling bias, among others.

Ko also said that the rule proposed by the KMT that voters sign a statement to identify themselves as standing with the opposition to oust the DPP runs counter to his campaign focus on uniting Taiwan and advocating for a coalition government or a government representing all citizens regardless of partisanship.

The KMT's proposal, which was crafted by King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), the executive officer of Hou's campaign, showed that King "has no intention of exploring possible collaboration," Ko said.

In response, King told a press conference that he sincerely hoped that the two sides would continue to sit down and talk.

King said that Ko "should not make assumptions about others' intentions based on his own."

King added that he would be willing to accommodate the TPP if it proposes a time and venue in order to continue to talk.

If the TPP and the KMT were to resume talks on Monday, there would be ample time for the two sides to explore collaboration, King said, adding that delays in these discussions could potentially reduce the amount of time available for such exchanges.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang, Wang Cheng-chung, Kao Hua-chien, and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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