Yao wins DPP Taipei polls

Yao to face Ko Wen-je in second round

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Lawmaker Yao Wen-chih won the first phase of the process to select the opposition candidate for Taipei City mayor, the Democratic Progressive Party announced Wednesday.
The former Cabinet spokesman defeated prominent attorney Wellington Koo, originally depicted as the frontrunner, and legislator Hsu Tain-tsair in all three opinion polls conducted Tuesday evening, the party said.
The candidates had agreed beforehand that precise results of the surveys would not be made public. Nevertheless, the Chinese-language Apple Daily website claimed that Yao received 30.67 percent of the vote, Koo 27.13 percent and Hsu 24.18 percent. Former Vice President Annette Lu announced last Saturday she was pulling out of the polls to show her dissatisfaction with the party’s handling of the selection process.
The telephone polls formed only the first part of the selection process, since Yao will still have to face independents Ko Wen-je and Neil Peng within a month, with the final choice to be announced in mid-June.
The two-stage process was made necessary because Ko refused to join the DPP, while he was leading opinion polls for opposition candidates for months.
Tuesday’s polls included comparisons between Yao, Koo and Hsu on the one hand and official Kuomintang candidate Sean Lien on the other hand. Three different companies gathered 3,747 valid responses, and Yao came out top in all three, DPP Secretary-General Lin Hsi-yao said.
After learning of his victory, the legislator said he would visit Koo, Hsu and Lu and was hoping to participate in two or three “conversations” or debates with Ko. His surprise victory showed that the residents of Taipei were hoping for a rational debate about public policies, Yao said.
The former government spokesman, who is seen as close to former Premier Frank Hsieh, said the distance between his support and Lien’s in the opinion polls was so narrow that if there were an election, he could come out the winner. “If the DPP comes together, the DPP candidate will not necessarily lose the opinion polls against Ko and against Lien,” he said. The elections for city mayors, county magistrates and councilors are scheduled for November 29.
Yao described the year-end vote as a struggle between privilege and wealth on one side and the ordinary citizen on the other. He said the completion of the second phase of the opposition selection process might be delayed because the DPP will choose a new leader on May 25, but in the meantime he promised he would continue to present topics for discussion. During the campaign, Yao reportedly reiterated a previous suggestion to replace Songshan Airport with a large park modeled on New York’s Central Park. On Tuesday, he made a cruise on the Tamshui River to emphasize how he wants to revitalize the capital’s poorer western quarters by making them rely more on the river.
Koo said in a message that he had let down his supporters, but that he would fully support Yao. If the DPP pulled together, it would be able to integrate the whole opposition camp and win the November election, the prominent lawyer said. He said he would continue to pay attention to Taipei issues and stand on the side of justice, democracy and human rights.
Hsu, a former mayor of Tainan City, congratulated Yao and expressed the wish he could continue and run for the election.