Ko touts party's oversight role under TPP-KMT joint ticket deal
Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Taiwan People's Party (TPP) presidential nominee Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Wednesday said his agreement to form a joint presidential ticket with the Kuomintang (KMT) came together "out of the blue," but argued that it would give his party significant control of government oversight.
In a TV interview on FaceNews, Ko elaborated on his decision to accept a joint ticket order based on a combination of recent public poll results and internal polling, which was widely seen as a concession by the TPP.
"Running as a one-person party in a national election is tough," Ko said.
"The KMT, after all, is a hundred-year-old party, and, no matter how lousy it is, 'a starved camel is still bigger than a horse,'" he added.
Ko said that in recent weeks, public opinion on who should top a potential joint ticket -- himself or KMT nominee Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) -- had narrowed considerably.
Many voters simply don't care who is president and who is vice president in such an arrangement, he said, as long as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is replaced.
Regarding the use of polls released publicly from Nov. 7 to 17 to determine the order of the ticket, Ko said KMT Chair Eric Chu (朱立倫) had made the proposal "out of the blue," and that he agreed to it without consulting any of his aides.
But he argued the method was sound, saying that even if Chu "ran the numbers at home," it was unlikely that the KMT had engaged in widespread poll manipulation unless Chu "thought this up a week or two ago."
Ko also claimed that he had secured an important victory in the final clause of the joint statement issued by the parties, which details how power would be divided within a potential coalition government.
The clause states that with the exception of the ministers of national defense, foreign affairs and cross-strait affairs, which are decided by the president, other ministries will be selected based on the proportion of legislators from each party.
It also says that the TPP will be broadly in charge of issues related to government oversight, while the KMT will be responsible for construction and development.
"I told them [during the meeting], within this government, I want anything related to supervision and checks and balances," Ko said, citing the Ministry of Justice and Financial Supervisory Commission as examples.
Foreign interference allegations
During the interview, Ko also claimed that after signing the agreement with the KMT on Wednesday, his party received a call from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT, the de facto U.S. embassy), asking whether Beijing had been involved.
The issue, he said, stems from the fact that Taiwan is a small country surrounded by major powers.
"The United States and China both interfere in Taiwan's elections. But Taiwan is its own entity, and we have to think about how to manage that," he said.
In response to the allegations, an AIT spokesperson told CNA Thursday that the United States "does not take sides in Taiwan's elections and is committed to the fair treatment of the candidates."
"U.S. policy on Taiwan will remain the same regardless of which party is in power, the spokesperson said, adding that the U.S. has full confidence in Taiwan's democratic system and electoral processes, and looks forward to working with whichever leaders Taiwan voters elect in 2024.
The order of the joint TPP-KMT ticket is expected to be announced on Nov. 18, days ahead of the Nov. 24 deadline for officially registering as a presidential candidate.
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