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Ko slams Hou's urgent call for joint ticket 'forced marriage'

10/24/2023 06:31 PM
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Taiwan People's Party's presidential candidate Ko Wen-je speaks at a presser in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo Oct. 24, 2023
Taiwan People's Party's presidential candidate Ko Wen-je speaks at a presser in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo Oct. 24, 2023

Taipei, Oct. 24 (CNA) Taiwan People's Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Tuesday dismissed Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou Yu-ih's (侯友宜) call for a swift response to appeals for the two to run on a joint ticket as a form of "forced marriage."

Ko said at a presser that issuing an ultimatum and demanding a response within a day is not the way to go.

His comments came a day after Hou proposed their names appear together on the same ballot as the best way to defeat the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Hou said he expected a reply from Ko by Oct. 25.

Ko responded by saying "it feels like a major party suppressing a smaller one," likening Hou's proposal to a "forced marriage" that leaves him with no room for choice.

With the 2024 presidential election in Taiwan about 80 days away, polls indicate that DPP presidential candidate, Lai Ching-te (賴清德), currently has a comfortable lead over Hou and Ko if they run separately.

Another opposition figure, Foxconn founder Terry Gou (郭台銘), running as an independent, is in last place in the polls with less than 10 percent.

Kuomintang presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (front right) attends a campaign in Tainan Tuesday. Oct. 24, 2023
Kuomintang presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (front right) attends a campaign in Tainan Tuesday. Oct. 24, 2023

The KMT and TPP are deadlocked on how to forge a unified front in the 2024 election to challenge the DPP because both Hou and Ko want to head the presidential ticket, and the parties disagree on how to choose a joint presidential candidate.

Ko said he hopes the ongoing stalemate can be resolved before the end of the month, "if it [cooperation] continues to be delayed, it will be impossible for the TPP to proceed with the elections," he said, when asked if the TPP-KMT alliance has collapsed.

Ko said he believed that the rules for cooperation should be designed to satisfy both parties, but the method proposed by the KMT is to ensure victory for itself.

To assess the electoral prospects of Ko and Hou in a potential alliance, the KMT has proposed conducting an open primary, while the TPP has suggested using opinion polls.

In an apparent compromise intended to resolve the TPP-KMT deadlock, Hou told media outlets on Monday that top billing could be decided by incorporating both a primary and polls, with each given equal weight.

However, Ko expressed his disapproval of the proposed method, adding that conducting an open primary at the KMT's service center, as previously proposed by the KMT, would significantly increases Hou's likelihood of winning.

Ko said that cooperation discussions are still welcome, but he strongly opposes the use of an open primary because it is "obviously unfair."

KMT presidential candidate and New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (right) speaks at a news conference also attended by KMT Chairman Eric Chu in New Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Oct. 24, 2023
KMT presidential candidate and New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (right) speaks at a news conference also attended by KMT Chairman Eric Chu in New Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Oct. 24, 2023

At a later press event, KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) jokingly said "we definitely did not try to force a marriage."

He characterized Ko's reaction as someone "getting cold feet before marriage" and said talks between the two sides will continue.

Chu revealed that he met with Ko a few days ago and reached agreement on the allocation of legislative seats for the upcoming election.

The primary goal is to assemble the most formidable team, one that meets the expectations of all Taiwanese for a united and strong KMT-TPP alliance, the chairman said.

(By Chung Yu-chen)

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