Aspirants in the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) primary for the Taipei mayoral election campaigned hard over the Mother’s Day weekend ahead of tomorrow’s primary poll and played down the significance of former vice president Annette Lu’s (呂秀蓮) decision to withdraw from the race, as well as her criticism of the primary mechanism that she said has destroyed the DPP’s “integrity and discipline.”
Lu announced her withdrawal on Saturday, leaving tomorrow’s poll a three-way race between lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) and two DPP legislators, Pasuya Yao (姚文智) and Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財).
According to the two-stage primary mechanism approved by the party’s Central Executive Committee, the winner of tomorrow’s public opinion poll will compete against a pair of independents — National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and award-winning screenwriter Neil Peng (馮光遠) — in the second stage.
The result of the first-stage primary is scheduled to be announced on Wednesday, and the final candidate of the pan-green camp is expected to be determined by the middle of next month, the DPP said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a campaign event in a local marketplace, where he distributed free carnations to residents, Koo said he respected Lu’s view on party politics.
“However, it was political reality that has forced the party to work out the two-stage mechanism,” Koo said, referring to the DPP’s response to Ko’s high popularity and a possible green-camp division should both Ko and the eventual DPP candidate enter the mayoralty race.
Yao also said that he respected Lu’s decision, but reiterated that “stopping a Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] dominance is more important to me than a DPP victory.”
“That is why an integration among the pan-green camp aspirants is important,” he said, adding that integration among the aspirants would not be as difficult as most of the contenders shared similar views, including closing the Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), promoting antinuclear awareness and building social housing projects.
Yao and Koo said that they were leading in the three-way first-stage competition and would be able to defeat Ko in the second stage.
Ko yesterday reiterated his emphasis of unity, saying that “all hardship could be overcome as long as people maintain good intentions.”
“Taiwan has been polarized for far too long and it was time to ‘reset’ the country,” Ko said, adding that the issue of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) would be a good opportunity to break the deadlock.
While the so-called “blue-green struggle” dividing Taiwanese at a percentage of about 55 percent to 45 percent, more than 70 percent of the people oppose the construction of the nuclear plant and the consensus is clear, he said.
Ko, who has been leading all pan-green camp aspirants in most polls, said he would try to seek consensus among major social groups, including the DPP, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, the People First Party, civic groups, student activists as well as the KMT’s local factions.
Recent polls showed that Ko is likely to have the best chance at defeating KMT candidate Sean Lien (連勝文), a former Taipei EasyCard Co chairman, in a head-to-head election in November, while the other aspirants trailed by about 20 percentage points.