Independent candidate Ellen Huang (黃越綏) opened a campaign office yesterday, although there is only a slim chance that her presidential bid will make it to the ballot box.
One day before a similar announcement by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) banner, Huang thanked supporters, mostly pro-independence stalwarts, saying that they were part of a “historic effort” to establish a new Taiwanese republic.
“I’m bringing together the pro-independence forces to fulfill my main election motif of self--determination and building a new country through a public referendum,” she told about three dozen backers at her Taipei City campaign office.
Huang, a former national policy adviser during Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) presidency, has said that her main motive for participating in an election she has little chance of winning is to nudge the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to adopt a more independence-minded platform.
Huang said that she welcomed a meeting with Tsai “any time — whenever she has time to see me.”
Campaign volunteers say that only “two to three thousand” petition forms have been completed, with the majority in Taipei, leaving her far short of the steep requirements for a candidate without party endorsement under current election law.
She will have to gather at least 257,000 signatures on her petition and pay a NT$1 million (US$34,752) deposit to be included on the presidential ballot and participate in the presidential debates.
Campaign funding could also be a problem for her, with donation collecting officials at her campaign office saying that “money is rapidly running out.”
“We are optimistic that more people will recognize her ideals and support the campaign,” one volunteer said.
Huang announced her presidential bid on May 16, making her the third candidate for next year’s presidential race. The long-time pro-independence advocate said she went ahead without Chen’s blessing.
She has not named her running mate, saying the person would be chosen through an Internet vote on her Web site.
“If I don’t reach the necessary numbers, I’ll see that as indication that I do not have the qualifications to run and of course I’ll back down. However, if I do manage the feat, then it becomes harder to say,” Huang said. “But either way, I believe that it’s time for a female president to come forward.”