President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with former premier William Lai (賴清德) for talks ahead of the party’s Central Standing Committee meeting today, which Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters hope would resolve a stalemate in the party’s presidential primary.
Tsai’s office spokesman and Taipei City Councilor Ruan Jhao-syong (阮昭雄) and other party insiders confirmed that the meeting between Tsai and Lai took place from about 2pm to 4pm at an undisclosed location in Taipei’s Yangmingshan National Park.
There was no other person at the private meeting, Ruan said.
“We do not yet know the outcome of the talks and what agreement, if any, might have been reached,” Ruan said. “President Tsai’s stance has always been consistent throughout, that is for the DPP to rally together to claim victory in next year’s presidential election.”
Lai’s office spokesman Lee Tuey-chih (李退之) also confirmed the meeting had taken place, but he also did not know the outcome.
“Lai has always stressed that progress should be made to ensure a satisfactory result of the party’s primary process,” Lee said.
DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) told reporters that he had met separately with both Tsai and Lai in the past two days to try to work out a compromise between the two sides, as they had differences on ways to conduct public surveys and other issues.
“I firmly believe that we must come out of tomorrow’s meeting with an agreement about the primary process,” Cho said. “Every party member wants this settled this week. We are also receiving calls from the public and outside groups about the time frame and the plans for the primary.”
Cho in a statement called on DPP supporters not to mobilize and rally at the party’s headquarters today, as reports abounded of numerous organizations and grassroots party members urging people to rally over the intractable issue of the primary process.
DPP spokesperson Lii Wen (李問) quoted Cho as saying that the party’s democratic mechanism for the primary has worked for many years and that it was arrived at through the endeavors of many people, past and present.
“Upholding democracy and making progress are the core values of our party, and we will make every effort to preserve this our party’s democratic mechanism to enable both candidates to reach an agreement. The party must unite and to go on to win the election,” Lii said. “The DPP will never betray its democratic mechanisms and will not lose the sight of winning the presidential election. All our party members must unite throughout this process.”
In an interview yesterday morning, Lai said that “if Tsai can protect Taiwan, then we [party members] will all support her. If I cannot bear this burden, then I shall support Tsai ... but if Tsai is unable to protect Taiwan and I can take up the responsibility, then I call on everyone to support me.”
Lai said that he was concerned about making changes to the primary process at this point.
“The DPP’s primary has been ongoing for two months now and if we make changes, then society will question its fairness. Once the DPP loses the people’s trust, then it would be difficult for society to rally together to support our party,” he said.
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