Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said he would endeavor to set up a meeting between President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former premier William Lai (賴清德) over the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential primary.
Su made the remark in response to media queries over whether Vice President Chen Chien-jen’s (陳建仁) decision on Friday to not be Tsai’s running mate in her re-election bid would increase the chance of a Tsai-Lai ticket.
“Anything is possible,” Su said.
Tsai last week registered for the primary.
The president, who lags well behind potential opponents in opinion polls, is being challenged from within her party for the nomination by Lai.
That has given rise to concerns among DPP members that a fierce competition could split the party and lead to defeat in next year’s presidential race.
The DPP has said it would try to hammer out a compromise internally to rally around one nominee and present a united front, but if those efforts fail, it would hold a series of opinion polls in the middle of next month to determine its presidential nominee.
The results of the primary are expected by April 17.
Su said he had an “in-depth conversation” with Lai on Friday.
The DPP’s primary rules clearly state that mediation is one of the options, Su said, adding that the mechanism is not meant to “force anyone out,” but to work out the strongest combination that could best serve the nation.
He shrugged off reports that Chen had been “negotiated out” of the election.
Meanwhile, DPP New Taipei City Councilor Chang Chih-hao (張志豪), DPP Taipei City Councilor Ruan Jhao-syong (阮昭雄) and DPP Kaohsiung City Councilor Lin Chih-hung (林智鴻) have launched a signature drive calling for a Tsai-Lai ticket.
The signature drive is aimed at gathering signatures of DPP councilors in the six special municipalities, as well as party representatives nationwide, Chang said.
Only through party unity and coordination would the DPP win the race, the petition says, adding that faced with an “uphill battle,” Tsai and Lai should publicly explain their visions and ideals, then join forces through mediation.
Separately yesterday, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said it is unlikely that he would be asked to be Tsai’s running mate.
Ko, an independent, made the remarks in response to media queries on recent political developments.
When asked about the possibility of teaming up with Tsai, Ko laughed and brushed it off twice by asking where the rumor came from.
The possibility was reported by the Chinese-language China Times yesterday.
The newspaper quoted two local academics as speculating that the US and Japan likely would play matchmaker, getting Tsai and Ko to form a “dream team” to contest the presidential election.
“It is probably right to say that I am accepted by the US, Japan and China,” Ko said.
“However, I am not their first choice and I am clearly aware of that,” he said.
When asked whether a Tsai-Ko partnership or a partnership of Tsai and Lai would have a better chance against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) nominees, he laughed and said: “Now I do not think either of those combinations will happen.”
Additional reporting by Su Fun-her and CNA
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