Kuomintang (KMT) chairman Eric Chu and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate, Ko Wen-je, held a joint press conference on Monday to announce their agreement to collaborate in the upcoming presidential election on January 13th. The two parties aim to stop the “one-party democratic rule” by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan and maximize their seats in the Legislative Yuan. However, they have yet to decide on who is running as the presidential candidate.

Following an hour-long meeting between KMT Chairman Chu and TPP Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je at the Mayor’s Residence Art Salon in Taipei, both parties made a joint statement to deepen Taiwan’s democratic development, emphasizing the end of “one-party monopoly and winner-takes-all politics.”

“The most significant meaning of today’s meeting in history is that cooperation is always better than confrontation,” Ko said in the conference on Monday, noting that the parties have reached two major consensuses, including developing “common political agendas” and “parliamentary cooperation,” which enables both sides to maximize their seats in the legislature.

As for the selection of the presidential candidate, there have been high-level conferences, but consensus has not yet been reached. Ko said that these issues will be addressed during the negotiation phase, and “it is hoped that the sooner, the better,” he emphasized, with a promise to finalize the timeline as soon as possible.

A Historical Cross-party Collaboration

This marks the first time that political parties in Taiwan are seeking “cross-party collaboration” or even considering the possibility of “a government coalition.” In 2004, the Kuomintang (KMT) cooperated with the People First Party (PFP); however, they shared a similar political background, both being part of the pan-Blue camp. 

It holds a unique significance for two parties from different camps to negotiate, as mentioned by KMT Chairman Chu. In response to criticism from the DPP that the cooperation between the blue and white camps is a “poorly staged drama for political spoils,” Ko explained that this is because they “lack experience,” and it takes a bit longer for them to collaborate for the first time.

Both political parties have reached a consensual vision that future cross-Taiwan Strait relations and dialogue, which have been on hold since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016, should be resumed and grounded in the Republic of China Constitution and pertinent Taiwanese legislation.

Additionally, the KMT and TPP have concurred that, in the future, Taiwan's next president should provide reports to the Legislative Yuan instead of delegating this responsibility to the premier, as stated by Chu.

Stalemate Over Choosing the Strongest Candidate

Regarding who will take the presidential seat and whether “Ko-Hou” or “Hou-Ko” will appear on the same ballot, uncertainty remains until now, despite an overnight joint meeting being summoned last night between Ko, Hou, and Chu.

Today, Ko told the press that during the three-party meeting last night, Hou, the KMT candidate, refused to accept a nationwide poll, while he, Ko, did not agree to a democratic primary election. The two parties remained deadlocked over the issue.

Although the KMT chairman, Eric Chu, set a date for the next meeting, if both parties continue to hold their respective positions, they will wait for Eric Chu to propose a solution before deciding whether to meet again.

Ko said that he is open to whoever becomes the presidential candidate or vice-presidential candidate on the ballot; what he wants is a fair set of rules for the competition. He mentioned, “If you’re not willing to compete, how can we resolve it?” He stated that without a fair competition method, the eventual outcome will just turn into political spoils.

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TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

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