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DPP ponders April poll to solve Taipei mayoral dilemma
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-14 03:18 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An opinion poll by the end of April including independent Ko Wen-je will select who will represent the opposition in the year-end Taipei City mayoral election, the Democratic Progressive Party said Friday.

The main opposition party has been faced with the dilemma for months about how to come up with a choice between five members and Ko, who has been riding high in public opinion surveys while refusing to join the DPP.

A special election taskforce meeting Friday morning came up with suggestions on how to solve the impasse, party spokesman Lin Chun-hsien told reporters. Because of pressure from supporters to put the likelihood of victory first, the DPP could not do otherwise but attempt to integrate all opposition candidates, Lin said, adding that not only Ko but also independent writer Neil Peng would be invited to participate in the poll. However, the formula will not be used for other cities or counties.

The taskforce would meet again next Tuesday to decide on the format for the poll and then pass on its suggestion to the DPP’s Central Executive Committee, Lin said. One suggestion to be considered was to hold polls comparing each DPP or independent candidate with the contenders from the ruling Kuomintang and see which one did best in a two-way race. The whole selection process should be completed by the end of April, according to Lin.

One of the taskforce members, Taipei City Councilor Ho Chih-wei, threw doubt on Ko’s determination to maintain his candidacy all the way to the November 29 election date, reports said. If the DPP decided not to nominate a party member, and Ko suddenly withdrew from the race, the opposition party would be left with egg all over its face, Ho said. Another taskforce member reportedly rejected his fears, saying it was not a subject which should be discussed by the group.

The DPP members seeking the nomination for the capital’s mayoral function include former Vice President Annette Lu, attorney Wellington Koo, lawmakers Hsu Tain-tsair and Yao Wen-chih and Taipei City Council Vice Speaker Chou Po-ya.

Several of them have harshly criticized Ko for his refusal to join the party. The National Taiwan University Hospital traumatology department chief said that if he became a DPP member, he would find it more difficult to rally support from outside the party. Ko wants to form a broad anti-KMT coalition to defeat the ruling party. Some commentators said that about 60 percent of Taipei voters regularly support the KMT, while 40 percent most often back the DPP.

Lu and Koo have been especially critical of past proposals to first select the strongest DPP candidate and then let him or her face Ko in a second-round poll.

The outspoken physician has also angered some in the DPP by calling party chairman Su Tseng-chang and his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen the “two suns” of the opposition. Both are expected to face each other in May chairperson elections and eventually in the race for the 2016 presidential nomination.

The KMT is also planning to wrap up its mayoral selection process by the end of next month. A primary will reportedly decide who the candidate will be. Sean Lien, the son of KMT Honorary Chairman and ex-Vice President Lien Chan, is widely seen as the frontrunner, though lawmaker Ting Shou-chung has been advancing in some polls. Other lawmakers and city councilors are also likely to compete.

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