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ELECTION 2024/KMT, TPP to continue negotiating on joint presidential ticket

11/18/2023 09:41 PM
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TPP Chairman and presidential nominee Ko Wen-je (center) at a press conference on Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 18, 2023
TPP Chairman and presidential nominee Ko Wen-je (center) at a press conference on Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 18, 2023

Taipei, Nov. 18 (CNA) The main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and the smaller Taiwan People's Party (TPP) will continue negotiating a joint presidential ticket, the two parties said Saturday, after an earlier deal to resolve the issue collapsed due to a dispute over how to interpret poll results.

It remains "imperative" that the opposition works toward a joint ticket to defeat ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) front-runner Lai Ching-te (賴清德) in the 2024 presidential election, said TPP Chairman and presidential nominee Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

The public has "high hopes" for a change in government after eight years of DPP rule, Ko said, adding that party negotiations between the TPP and KMT should resume "the sooner the better."

Ko, however, sidestepped a reporter's question at the heart of the issue -- how the two sides could still negotiate a new agreement now that the previous one reached Wednesday had fallen apart -- saying only that "everything is possible by 5 p.m. on Nov. 24."

He was referring to the Central Election Commission's deadline for formally registering presidential candidates.

KMT presidential nominee Hou Yu-ih and KMT Chairman Eric Chu speak to reporters on Saturday in Taipei. CNA photo Nov. 18, 2023
KMT presidential nominee Hou Yu-ih and KMT Chairman Eric Chu speak to reporters on Saturday in Taipei. CNA photo Nov. 18, 2023

Speaking at a separate press conference, KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said his party remained committed to forming a joint presidential ticket with the TPP.

"We both agreed on [forming] a Blue-White alliance on Nov. 15," Chu said, referring to the KMT and the TPP, respectively, noting that the only question at stake was to determine who will head the joint ticket.

That, of course, has been at the heart of the wrangling over a unified ticket, as neither the KMT and its nominee Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) nor Ko seem willing to play second fiddle.

Wednesday's agreement called for polling experts selected by the KMT, TPP, and Ma Ying-jeou Foundation to assess the results of public polls released from Nov. 7 to Nov. 17 and internal polls conducted by the two sides to determine whether Hou or Ko would head the ticket.

Under the agreement, Hou received one "point" in every poll where a Hou/Ko pairing outpolled a Ko/Hou pairing or trailed a Ko/Hou pairing by less than the margin of error.

However, the lack of agreement over the polls that could be used, the methods to be used to conduct the assessments, and the different ways the two sides interpreted the polls left them accusing each other of skewing the results in their favor.

The KMT originally proposed to examine a total of nine polls, but later agreed to take out three of them that all favored the Hou/Ko pairing following the TPP's protest.

One of them was a text message poll, while the other two were landline-only polls, which the TPP has argued are inaccurate because they leave out mobile phone users, who happen to be generally younger and more likely to support Ko.

Of the six polls considered, the two sides clashed over two polls conducted by online news outlet CNEWS and the TPP's internal poll.

The CNEWS poll showed the approval rating of the Hou/Ko ticket at 46.1 percent beating Lai's 41.6 percent while the Ko/Hou ticket had 48.3 percent support against 39.2 percent for Lai.

The CNEWS poll was said to have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.17 percent.

In the TPP poll, the Hou/Ko ticket received 39.7 percent support compared to 33 percent received by Lai and his likely running mate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), while the Ko/Hou ticket garnered 44 percent support to 32 percent for the Lai-Hsiao ticket.

That poll had a margin of error of 2.98 percentage points.

According to the KMT, while the Ko/Hou ticket compared favorably with the Hou/Ko tickets in the two polls, their differences in support levels fell within the margin of error and therefore they should be awarded to Hou, though it was unclear how that was true for the TPP poll.

The TPP disagreed, arguing that the gaps should be calculated by comparing the margins that the Hou/Ko ticket and the Ko/Hou ticket were ahead of the Lai-Hsiao ticket.

Chu later questioned the TPP's method, saying it deviated from past presidential primaries conducted by the KMT and even the DPP. "There is no need to change the rules of the game," he said.

(By Teng Pei-ju)


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