Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), a physician who is mulling running in next year’s Taipei mayoral election, met with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday, but said he had not made up his mind about the joining the party.
However, he was reportedly leaning toward joining eventually.
“I believe that the decision will be made shortly after several issues have been worked out. However, I am glad that we had a pleasant discussion and established a direct channel communications,” Ko said after the 90-minute closed-door meeting at the DPP headquarters in Taipei yesterday morning.
He said he would likely make a decision around the Lunar New Year holiday, but no later than March.
“We both agreed on one thing: It will take consolidation and a collective effort, possibly an opposition alliance, for the pan-green camp to win the election,” said the National Taiwan University Hospital doctor, whose support rate in recent opinion polls is much higher than any of the pan-green camp mayor aspirants.
The self-proclaimed “amateur politician,” who is known for his quick wit and satirizing of the DPP, is leaning toward joining the party, according to one of his aides, who preferred to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
By saying he was at least considering joining the DPP, Ko appeared to be turning away from the idea of running as an independent, which he had said would win him more support from swing voters.
Taipei has traditionally been a weak spot for the DPP.
The perfect scenario for the 54-year-old would be to run as independent and for the DPP to refrain from nominating its own candidate in the election in December next year, but that prospect evaporated after four DPP members announced they would enter the party’s primary: former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), attorney Wellington Koo (顧立雄), Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) and Taipei City Council Deputy Speaker Chou Po-ya (周柏雅).
As chairman, Su has to find a solution that best serves the DPP’s interests and settles the competition between Ko and the party’s four hopefuls.
Addressing the media after the meeting, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said Su had reassured Ko that consolidation would be crucial for the election, but that the DPP would nominate its own candidate and is not likely to include a non-member in the opinion poll portion of its primary.
According to DPP regulations — tailor-made for next year’s seven-in-one special municipality elections — Ko would be exempt from the current requirement that anyone who wants to run on the DPP ticket must have been a member for at least two years, Lin said.
A timetable for the survey portion of the primary for Taipei has not been set, Lin said.
Lu and Koo are seen as the ones most likely to suffer if Ko joins the DPP.
The former vice president, who has strongly criticized Ko’s idea of running as an independent, said yesterday that if Ko joined the party, his loyalty to it and his previous comments about it would have to be carefully examined by DPP members.
“However, I welcome the competition,” she said.
Koo said he hoped Ko would make up his mind about joining the party as soon as possible, adding that he would accept the final result of the party’s primary as long the process is fair.