Taiwan’s KMT to pick presidential candidate by July 16

The party will not organize debates and exclude smartphone users from opinion polls

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KMT spokesman Ouyang Long.

KMT spokesman Ouyang Long. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Kuomintang (KMT) announced Wednesday (May 15) it will use opinion polls without smartphones to select its presidential candidate by July 16 at the latest.

The contenders will not have to engage in televised debates with each other, but will be able to offer their views to the public separately, the Central News Agency reported.

Despite demands by some candidates, the party’s Central Standing Committee decided Wednesday that the nominee for the January 11, 2020 presidential election would be selected by opinion polls only, with no separate vote by party members.

Five polling organizations will be asked to conduct the surveys for at least 3,000 valid responses each, but they will only use landlines to reach respondents, and not smartphones. The issue has recently divided the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) pushing for the inclusion of cellphones, while ex-Premier William Lai (賴清德) has opposed changing the rules while the race is already underway.

The time table announced Wednesday sees each contender put up a deposit of NT$5 million (US$160,700) by the end of May, with the party announcing the final list of participants in the primaries on June 10.

The KMT will organize no debates between its candidates, but from June 23 through July 4, they will have the opportunity to present their views on television.

The polls will be conducted between July 5 and 15, with the result expected no later than July 16. The Central Standing Committee will have to ratify the choice on July 17 and a KMT party congress on July 28, CNA reported.

A special party committee will be in charge of evaluating the candidates who want to take part in the opinion polls, opening up the way for Kaohsiung City Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to participate, the United Daily News reported.

A rule allowing only people who have been KMT members for four months to run for office will be put aside, in a move favoring Foxconn Technology Group Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘), who only rejoined the party last April following a 19-year hiatus.