Lai declares ambition to recall 'founding spirit' of DPP as party faces primary delay

Taiwan's former premier rejects notion DPP faces internal crisis, emphasizes need for fair primary election

William Lai at Qingan Temple, Keelung, April 12

William Lai at Qingan Temple, Keelung, April 12 (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – As William Lai prepares to head into the primary election to the nomination of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) against incumbent President Tsai, the former premier is hoping to dispel the notion that the competition between the two is a threat to party unity.

On Friday in Keelung, at a signing event for his recently published memoir, Lai reaffirmed his commitment to go through with the DPP primary. He also declared his ambition to unite the DPP and recall the founding spirit of the party.

In recent weeks, some commentators have referred to the Lai vs. Tsai competition as a “train wreck” for the DPP, with Lai, very popular within the party, seen as a serious contender in a primary election against President Tsai, who successfully appealed to a broad coalition of voters in the last general election.

Hoping to clear up misunderstandings and avoid any stirrings of factionalism in the party, Lai declared that both he and Tsai are headed in the same direction, and want what is best for the party and for Taiwan. Lai suggested that while some of his positions may differ slightly to Tsai, there will be no “train wreck” or “collision,” reports LTN.

Lai has emphasized in recent weeks that he seeks to make the DPP primary a fair and transparent process, which will serve to highlight the party’s commitment to democratic principles. This, Lai believes, will encourage the electorate and spur greater voter turnout in the next general election.

On April 10, the DPP announced that it would delay its primary election until after May 22, creating more speculation about how the party is handling its nomination process.

The DPP primary process is also reportedly causing some unease among international observers. In the past several days it has been reported that representatives from the U.S., Japan, and Australia have sought out meetings with William Lai to gain an update on how things are proceeding towards a decision on a nominee, reports Upmedia.