TAIPEI: Taiwan’s two main opposition parties agreed on Wednesday to make a decision on a joint presidential ticket for January’s elections based on opinion polls, the parties said, as the ruling party decried interference from Beijing.
The issue of China, which views Taiwan as its territory, looms over the Jan 13 parliamentary and presidential elections. China has stepped up military and political pressure to press the island to accept its sovereignty claim, which Taiwan rejects.
Vice-president Lai Ching-te, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate, has almost consistently led opinion polls, leaving candidates of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), Hou Yu-ih, and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), Ko Wen-je, to battle it out for second place.
The KMT and TPP have been in acrimonious talks since last month on a united presidential bid, but have failed to agree who should be the presidential candidate and who should be the running mate. They have not been able to agree on how to make that decision.
After talks hosted by former president Ma Ying-jeou, also a senior KMT member, the two parties said they had agreed to use opinion polls conducted between Nov. 7 and this Friday to decide the make-up of the presidential bid with the result to be announced on Saturday.
“No matter what, whoever is the lead and whoever is the deputy, everyone will work together,” Hou told reporters, referring to who gets the presidential candidate spot and who the gets the vice presidential one.
As the talks got underway, the DPP accused Ma, who last week came out in support of using opinion polls, which the KMT had previously opposed, of taking his instructions from China, given the head of Ma’s foundation, Hsiao Hsu-tsen, had visited Beijing this month.
“It is not baseless to say, as Vice President Lai has repeatedly done so, that it is China’s communist party which most wants to take down the DPP,” the party said in a statement.
Hsiao rebuffed that, telling reporters he had been in Beijing purely for an academic forum.
China detests Lai, believing he is a separatist. Lai says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future and has repeatedly offers talks with Beijing.