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Ko Wen-je to run for Taipei Mayor as independent`
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-17 05:46 PM
Ko Wen-je has decided not to apply for membership in the DPP and to run as an independent in the election for Taipei Mayor in November. The decision throws a wrench into proposals being offered by the DPP to Ko, who only a couple of days ago would only say that he was “90%” committed to going it alone in the mayoral race.

Ko’s decision comes after he reportedly paid a visit to former President Lee Teng-hui last week to gauge Lee’s opinion on whether he should join the party. Although Ko has not disclosed what took place or even acknowledged that he went to see Lee, word of the meeting leaked out to other candidates in the DPP fold, who have said the former president was “noncommittal” in his answers to Ko.

Last Friday DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang called in the five declared candidates for the DPP nomination to canvass their opinions on a proposal to hold the DPP primary and then appraise the strength of Ko’s support in the electorate before making a final decision on whether to attempt to forge a “Grand Opposition Alliance” to the KMT in the November election. The five potential candidates included former Vice-president Annette Lu, lawyer Wellington Koo, Deputy Speaker of the Taipei City Council Chou Po-ya and legislators Pasuya Yao and Hsu Tain-tsair.

The DPP nominating committee was originally slated to meet Wednesday morning to review the list of candidates for the party and submit it to the Central Standing Committee at its meeting Wednesday afternoon. Tuan Yi-kang, the convener of the nominating committee, now says his committee will meet Thursday morning to finalize the list, which will be presented at next week’s CSC meeting.

Ko Wen-je has said that after the CSC concludes its meeting Wednesday he will meet with reporters to explain his position on working with the DPP as well as his views on the election.

Meanwhile another political tyro has tossed his hat into the ring with the writer Feng Kwang-yuan’s announcement that he is also a candidate for mayor of Taipei City. Feng says his decision to run is not a spur-of-the-moment thing but rather stems from his belief that the campaign should have a real grassroots candidate for voters to choose. He notes that he is relatively young and should appeal to younger elements in the population.

Ko Wen-je’s announcement that he will run as an independent slams the brakes on hopes among the DPP leadership that he might be persuaded to campaign with the approval of the party. Now the party will face added pressure and the need to adjust its strategies for the upcoming primary as well as the 7-in-1 elections in November.

Some observers are now saying that even though Ko ruminated publicly about joining the party for several months, he may have been planning all along to go it on his own. He presumably decided early on that party membership did not offer any concrete advantages and in spite of repeated appeals from some in the DPP to join in a planned Grand Alliance, he came to the conclusion that he would be better off slogging through the campaign as an independent.

Ko appears to have committed himself to running as an independent in the hope that he can move past issues that divide the Green and Blue camps. To the Blues, however, Ko has been viewed from the outset as Green no matter whether he ran as an independent or opted to take part in the DPP nomination process.

For Ko, the next step will be to put together a cogent political philosophy and a strategy that will allow him to keep the voter base that polls suggest he already has, while attempting to lure other supporters away from both the Green and Blue camps. He must come up with concrete and practical solutions that will set him apart from candidates in the two camps and show that he is a viable candidate for mayor. Otherwise the “Ko phenomenon” could turn out to be little more than a footnote in what promises to be a very contentious election this year.

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