President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday became the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential primary, after she defeated former premier William Lai (賴清德) by 8.2 percentage points in public opinion polls.
Of the respondents in five separate three-way polls, 35.67 percent supported Tsai, while 27.48 percent chose Lai, DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) told a news conference at party headquarters in Taipei.
Tsai garnered higher support when pitted against independent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who received 22.7 percent, and Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), who received 24.51 percent, the poll showed.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
Lai also came out slightly ahead against Ko and Han, who received 27.38 percent and 23.47 percent respectively, Cho said.
The result came at a crucial time, considering the events of the past few days in Hong Kong, Cho said.
“Maybe this is our historic destiny... Right now we are seeing Hong Kongers exercising their rights with tremendous courage and taking their fate into their own hands,” he said.
“They are fighting for the next generation of Hong Kongers so they will not have to face this trial again,” Cho said. “On the same day, we have gotten this outcome after an 86-day process filled with twists and turns.”
Tsai later in the afternoon told a news conference that she would meet Lai in the coming days to discuss the party’s strategy.
“At this time, the most important thing is party solidarity” to safeguard democracy, protect government reforms and consolidate the nation’s sovereignty, Tsai said.
“By having an open competition, we can have progress. I want to thank Lai for his criticism, so that I can reflect on where my blind spots and problems are,” she added.
Tsai praised Lai’s display of democratic values and said that they had reached some agreements over the telephone.
“We have the common belief that we can only win the election through party unity and that we cannot allow Taiwan to be defeated,” she said. “I still believe in the principle that ‘one plus one will be greater than two.’”
Speaking to reporters at a temple in Tainan, Lai apologized to his supporters for failing in his bid to become the DPP’s nominee and called on all party members to support Tsai.
“History will remember that when Taiwan faced grave challenges and when the DPP faced its most difficult moment, we did not back down and courageously shouldered the burden,” Lai said.
The primary not only represents a new page in Taiwan’s democratic history, but has also boosted the DPP’s morale, he said.
“With public polls, there is a winner and a loser, but through this democratic mechanism, all Taiwanese are the real winners,” Cho said. “We shall cherish this democratic process and shall record it in our history so that we can further refine and advance our democracy.”
“Through this fair and carefully monitored process, we truly believe that we have chosen the strongest presidential candidate, because only if Taiwan becomes stronger can our people have better security and prosperity,” he added.
The DPP would now begin two important missions: forging party unity and launching into election campaign mode, Cho said.
Party solidarity would be a huge task, requiring the effort of all party members and supporters, Cho added.
He urged all DPP members to rally together to win next year’s election, as “only by focusing on this goal can Taiwan become a truly sovereign and independent nation and not follow in Hong Kong’s footsteps.”
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