On Monday the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) announced the results of its presidential primaries, with Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu enjoying a more than 17-point lead over his major rival Terry Gou Tai-ming, founder of Foxconn Group.
After months of maneuvers, Han has finally secured his official candidacy for the 2020 Taiwan presidential race.
While Han’s victory in the KMT primaries has come as no surprise, the most important task lying before him right now is definitely to win over Gou and his supporters to avoid a split in the opposition party.
Despite his high popularity, Han would be fighting an uphill battle in trying to unseat President Tsai Ing-wen of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) if the pan-Blue coalition remains deeply divided.
In particular, the entire political balance will be tilted in favor of the DPP if Gou, who has remained tight-lipped about what he will do next, eventually decides to withdraw from the KMT and run for president as an independent candidate.
Infighting between Han and Gou would stretch the support base of the pan-Blue coalition to a dangerous limit and allowing the DPP to fish in troubled waters.
There are still varying factors as to whether Gou will withdraw from the KMT and run for the presidential race. Apart from Gou, two other key figures – Wang Jin-pyng, former speaker of the Legislative Yuan, and Ko Wen-je, the incumbent mayor of Taipei – could also prove decisive factors in determining how things will play out as far as the pan-Blue coalition is concerned.
There is indeed already talk of Gou teaming up with either Wang or Ko to form an independent ticket for the 2020 presidential election.
In our opinion, if Gou does choose to run independently, then picking Ko as his running mate would at least minimize the impact on the pan-Blue coalition.
According to poll results in the past, Ko and Tsai’s bases do, to a considerable extent, overlap.
As such, if Gou and Ko form their own ticket, chances are, Gou and Han will go head-to-head with each other and fire up the entire pan-Blue support base.
On the other hand, a split in the pan-Blue bloc between Han’s and Gou’s supporters can be compensated by Ko, who can tap into pro-DPP voters, particularly the younger ones, thereby substantially undermining Tsai’s odds of securing her re-election.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 16
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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