Taiwan opposition to discuss teaming up ahead of January election

Taiwan’s sole opposition group the Kuomintang (KMT) conveyed on Monday that it was conversing deeply about measures to team up with other opposition party, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), ahead of January’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The election is taking place as China, which views Taiwan as its own territory, has been stepping up military and political pressure, seeking to assert its independence claims.

Vice President William Lai, the governing Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate, has almost many times led opinion polls, leaving the KMT’s Hou Yu-ih and TPP’s Ko Wen-je, a previous Taipei mayor, to battle it out for second place. Both the KMT, which traditionally supports close collaborations with China, and the TPP have brought forward the notion of working in collaboration to take down the DPP, but have been unable to agree on how to do that, which also includes whether Hou or Ko should step down as their party’s respective presidential candidate.

Hou’s campaign team said it and the KMT’s central office had decided to hold “preliminary consultations” with the TPP and called for both sides “to sit down together as soon as possible”. “As long as it is a problem of mutual issue, it can be conversed deeply about without preconditions,” the statement said. Ko has offered both groups should utilise opinion polls to make a decision about who should stand as president and who as vice president on a possible collaborative ticket, but the KMT has not been interested on that notion.

The KMT is Taiwan’s hugest opposition party, holding 38 out of 113 seats in parliament to the TPP’s five. At a local level, the KMT also controls 14 of Taiwan’s 22 city mayor and county chief positions, to the TPP’s two.