TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has reportedly asked for a leave from office starting Dec. 30 to campaign for the legislative candidates of his newly founded Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).
TPP Spokesperson Lin Chen-yu (林珍羽) said on Tuesday (Dec. 24) that Ko, the TPP’s founding chair, would embark on a nationwide tour beginning in Kaohsiung City on Saturday (Dec. 28) to campaign with the party’s legislative candidates. Ko would then take leave from office on Dec. 30 for a final sprint to election day on Jan. 11, a source familiar with the matter told CNA.
However, Ko will still attend the New Year’s countdown celebration in Taipei and is expected to take part in the flag-raising ceremony at the Presidential Office on Jan. 1, according to the source.
Established in August, the TPP has the potential to become the third-biggest political party next year if it sees much success in the legislative elections. Recent opinion polls suggest that the party has overtaken the New Power Party, which suffered internal splits among key members a few months ago, to become the third-favorite choice of Taiwanese voters.
Ko recently expressed an interest in running for president in 2024. The legislative elections are thus particularly important for the mayor if he is to further expand his political influence across the island.
The TPP has positioned itself as an alternative to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Kuomintang (KMT). Yet critics of Ko consider the party’s political orientation to be closer to the Pan-Blue camp, partly due to Ko’s lenient attitude toward Beijing’s pressure on Taiwan.
During his tour, Ko will make speeches and present the TPP's political platform in hopes of garnering more support from different parts of the country, said the party’s spokesperson. Choosing Kaohsiung as the first stop of his tour shows Ko’s emphasis on the southern region, according to Lin.