People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday pledged to regain the party’s influence in the legislature as he announced 10 candidates that will represent the PFP in January’s legislative elections, while remaining vague about whether he would run for president.
Leading the 10 candidates in declaring the PFP’s determination to obtain at least three seats in the next legislature to form a caucus, Soong said the PFP aimed to push for a “quiet revolution” that would end bipartisan confrontation in the legislature and make the public’s needs the priority.
Former independent legislator Li Ao (李敖), who will represent the PFP in Taipei City’s Wenshan (文山)-Zhongzheng (中正) electoral district, joined Soong in challenging the partisan culture in the legislature, saying power struggles between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) paralyze it.
“There are too many bills lying on the legislative floor that haven’t been handled and it’s been unbearable that the KMT and the DPP have cheated us for so long ... This time I will collaborate with James Soong and the PFP in the election so that the PFP caucus can do something for the people,” Li said.
He also urged Soong to join the presidential election as a way to promote the party’s candidates in the legislative elections.
Soong, who has said in several interviews that he will either join the presidential or legislative races, did not announce his decision at the press conference, insisting that helping the PFP win seats in the legislature was more important.
“It takes people, money and other objective conditions to run for the presidency,” Soong said. “It’s better to end the negative reputation of our legislature for incompetence before discussing which position James Soong should be in.”
Comparing himself to former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) and former British prime minister Winston Churchill, who both went through ups and downs in their political careers, Soong urged supporters to give him more time to make a decision on the matter.
When asked whether he would meet with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Soong said that the KMT and PFP should exchange ideas via meetings between the parties’ secretaries-general and that a meeting with Ma was unnecessary.
Soong’s possible presidential bid has also been seen as a potential spoiler for Ma, who is facing a tight race against DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
At a separate setting yesterday, Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, said his party respected the PFP’s presentation of its own legislative candidates, but added that the KMT still hoped to work with the PFP on legislative nominations.
Presiding over the KMT’s Central Standing Committee, Ma said the KMT never intended to dissuade PFP candidates and that KMT-PFP cooperation remained the party’s goal.
Facing a split in the pan-blue camp, KMT Secretary-General Liao Liao-yi (廖了以) said the president was still willing to meet with Soong to discuss cooperation between the two parties and urged the PFP to consider the overall situation and meet its supporters’ expectations of a united pan-blue camp in the elections.
The PFP said it would release the names of more legislative nominees as it hopes to win at least 5 percent of the vote — the threshold for securing legislator-at-large seats — in the legislative elections.
The DPP, meanwhile, said it respected the PFP’s decision to take part in the elections as the right to political participation is protected by the Constitution.
The new development would not affect the DPP’s legislative campaign strategy and tempo, DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.
While most people see the division in the pan-blue camp as an opportunity and an advantage for the main opposition party, DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that was not necessarily the case because the PFP would try to attract anti-Ma voters, which means the DPP could also end up losing votes.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHRIS WANG
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