The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday denied it had decided to support National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) bid in the Taipei mayoral election as an independent in November and that it would not nominate its own candidate.
Storm Media, an online news Web site, reported yesterday that the DPP had decided it would not nominate its own candidate in the Taipei election to boost Ko’s chance of winning after the aspirant’s meeting with DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) during the Lunar New Year holidays.
The media outlet also reported that the now-defunct New Tide faction, one of the most powerful factions in the party, has switched its allegiance to Ko and dropped its support of lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄), one of five DPP aspirants.
Former DPP lawmakers Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) and Shen Fa-hui (沈發惠), both New Tide members, had accompanied Ko on a visit to a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweight on Jan. 28 for talks on inter-party support, according to the report.
DPP spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵) denied that Su had met Ko during the holidays. Cheng denied that he had accompanied Ko on the reported visit and said former New Tide members had not thrown their support behind any aspirant in the Taipei mayoral election.
Ko said on the sidelines of the Taipei International Book Exhibition yesterday that his itinerary was “confidential” and he would not share it with the public, and that the reported endorsement by the New Tide faction “is also something that I would keep to myself.”
Ko, whose support rating is ahead of that of Koo and the other DPP aspirants — former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Taipei City Council Deputy Speaker Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) and DPP lawmakers Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) and Pasuya Yao (姚文智) — has been campaigning hard to run as a “pan-green candidate” without having to obtain DPP membership, a proposal that most DPP aspirants oppose.
After previously stressing his preference for “letting the nomination process run its course,” Ko appeared to have changed his position yesterday, saying that settling the nomination by the end of next month would be a better idea so that “current disputes over the issue would not go on forever.”
In response to the report, Koo said he was not aware of the reported decision and that he did not sense the loss of the New Tide faction’s support.
“What the DPP must do is lay out the rules of the game as soon as possible so that anxiety among DPP aspirants like me can be relieved,” Koo said yesterday, adding that his support rating has surpassed Lu’s and made him the leader among the five DPP aspirants.
Koo said he hoped the DPP could finalize the primary format at a Central Executive Committee meeting on Feb. 15.
He said he would accept either format for the primary if it was formally adopted by the DPP, referring to the so-called “one-phase” and “two-phase” formats, with the former including Ko in the party’s public opinion poll and the latter matching the winner of five DPP aspirants with Ko for a second poll to determine the final candidate.
However, Ko is likely not to be the only independent in the running, as award-winning writer Neil Peng (馮光遠) is also likely to enter the race, Koo said.
“If the DPP includes Ko in the public opinion poll, how would the party deal with Peng?” Koo asked.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday that the most important task for the DPP would be “breaking the KMT’s monopoly on the Taipei mayorship,” which is why garnering maximum momentum among the opposition is crucial.