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Dust settles on 3 Taiwan presidential candidates

All 3 candidates formerly served as mayors of special municipalities

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Lai Ching-te, Hou Yu-ih, and Ko Wen-je. 

Lai Ching-te, Hou Yu-ih, and Ko Wen-je.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan now has three official presidential candidates.

This follows the Friday (Nov. 24) registration of the Kuomintang's (KMT) presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), plus their running mates. Meanwhile, independent candidate Terry Gou (郭台銘) has dropped out.

On Tuesday (Nov. 21), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) were the first to complete their registration for the 2024 presidential election. After talks on a united Blue-White (KMT-TPP) ticket collapsed Thursday (Nov. 23), Ko and running mate TPP Legislator Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) registered at the Central Election Commission (CEC) on Friday morning, soon followed by Hou and KMT vice presidential candidate Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康).

However, Gou was nowhere to be seen and his office did not make any official comment on the matter. At 2 p.m., Gou issued a statement on his Facebook page saying he was bowing out of the race.

This now leaves the DPP, KMT, and TPP fielding official candidates for the 2024 presidential race. This marks the first time since democratic elections began in Taiwan that no alumni of National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Law is running, reported CNA.

Hou has a doctorate of law from the Central Police University's Department of Crime Prevention and Corrections, while Lai graduated from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Ko holds a Ph.D. in clinical medicine from the NTU College of Medicine.

In addition, all three have served as mayors of special municipalities. Hou, who has a background in law enforcement, was invited by the then New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) to serve as deputy mayor in 2010. He was later elected mayor of New Taipei City in 2018, and again in 2022.

Lai was formerly a physician at National Cheng Kung University Hospital. He has served as a legislator for 11 years. He was elected mayor of Tainan in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. In 2017, he served as premier.

Ko was originally a doctor at NTU Hospital. He was elected mayor of Taipei in 2014 in collaboration with the DPP. In 2018, he was re-elected despite parting ways with the DPP. In 2019, Ko founded the TPP and served as party chairman.

After the CEC closes Friday for accepting registrations for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, it will review the list before Dec. 5, draw lots to determine candidate numbers on Dec. 11, and officially announce the list of candidates on Dec. 15.

In addition, according to the regulations on the implementation of televised policy statements by presidential and vice-presidential candidates, the CEC is required to hold four televised policy statement sessions during the campaign period, including three for the presidential candidates and one for the vice-presidential candidates.

According to the CEC's plan, the first televised political statement by the presidential candidates will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 20, the second will be held at 2 p.m. on Dec. 26, and the third will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 28. The vice presidential candidate will hold a televised political statement session on Dec. 22 at 7 pm.