Sun, Jan 23, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Parties maneuver ahead of race for speaker's office

SHIFTING ALLIANCES The KMT and PFP now seem likely to coordinate on the race, but the DPP said it still won't rule out cooperation with the PFP

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

While the two pan-blue parties have apparently patched up their stormy relations and are ready to run together in the legislative speaker and deputy legislative speaker races, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it would not give up on the races.

The new legislature begins on Feb. 1, and the newly elected lawmakers are expected to vote on the speaker and deputy speaker positions on the same day.

Although the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) have not officially reached an agreement on how to approach the speakership race together, the two sides have been making friendly gestures toward each other.

PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) announced last week that the PFP would support incumbent Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who is also a KMT Vice Chairman, in the race.

In return, Wang showed support for the possible KMT-PFP ticket in the race this week.

Wang said that he would go greet Soong at the airport when Soong returns from the US. The date of Soong's return is not yet known, although it is generally expected that he will return before the end of this month.

"Now we still have to wait for Chairman Soong's return. Only after he meets Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) can we officially sanction the KMT-PFP ticket. It is very likely that the ticket would be formed, and the most important thing is for us to have the same goal and unite together," Wang said.

Wang also said that he had no preference about whom the PFP chooses to run with him.

The PFP caucus, meanwhile, said that the PFP caucus would decide on its candidate for the Deputy Speakership in a vote by tomorrow at the latest.

Currently there are three PFP lawmakers who have officially declared their intentions to run: Chung Jung-chi (鍾榮吉), Shen Chih-hwei (沈智慧), and Lee Ching-hua (李慶華).

Since the three are all quite insistent on running, PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) has been trying since yesterday to negotiate with them. But it is possible that a candidate will only be decided on after the caucus members vote tomorrow.

PFP caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said that Soong would not interfere with the caucus' operation, and possibly would not return before the caucus decides on a candidate.

Regarding whether the two parties would run a joint campaign, Wang said that since the PFP had not chosen its candidate and he had already started his own campaign, it would be "a bit difficult" to conduct a joint campaign.

Wang, however, also pointed out that after the PFP finally decided on its candidate, the pan-blue camp should be able to work out a campaign mechanism together, and it was possible that the two candidates would attend each other's campaign events.

Wang also expressed great faith in the KMT lawmakers' loyalty and said that "no KMT vote will switch sides."

The DPP, meanwhile, said it has not given up on the races.

"The DPP will certainly nominate its own candidates to run in the race, even if we fail to collaborate with another caucus," DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said.

"The caucus will try its best to pursue collaboration with the PFP caucus, and if necessary, a PFP-DPP ticket is also a possible option," Tsai said.

Another caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) also pointed out that the DPP would pass a resolution during Tuesday's central standing committee meeting on Tuesday to support its own candidate, and then the caucus will meet Wednesday morning to decide on the candidate.

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