In the biggest story of the 2024 Taiwan presidential election so far, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday agreed to use polling to determine whether the TPP’s Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) or the KMT’s Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) will be their presidential candidate on a joint ticket. The KMT and TPP also agreed to form a coalition government if they win the election.
In a joint statement, the two sides said that former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the KMT and the TPP will each recommend one polling expert. The three experts will review and assess the results of public opinion polls released between November 7 and November 17, as well as the results of one internal poll provided by the KMT and one provided by the TPP. For each of the three sets of polls, the candidate who leads by more than the margin of error will receive one point. If the results are within the margin of error, Hou will receive one point. If Hou wins more points, he will head the campaign as the presidential candidate, and Ko will be the vice presidential candidate. If Ko gains more points, he will lead the ticket, and Hou will be his running mate.
Both candidates will likely lose some supporters, as their backers generally do not hold the same political views. However, the combined TPP-KMT ticket is still likely to lead the polls — for now. Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has for most of the campaign appeared to be running more of a victory lap than a race, focusing on burnishing his image in front of foreign journalists. Taiwan’s CNA called a Ko-led ticket the “worst scenario” for the DPP, citing Ko’s 50.1% rating among the 20-39 age group, compared to Lai’s 22.6 percent and Hou’s 5.8 percent. Lai will now have to hit the campaign trail, hard. On the other side, Ma Ying-jeou and Eric Chu will have to restrain themselves. If they revert to KMT form and attempt to impose their will on Ko, they will torpedo their newly crafted joint ticket. Also to be seen is whether Ko’s young supporters will actually show up to vote.
Although Lai is a known quantity and would receive U.S. support, Washington would also be comfortable with Ko and would not seek to undermine his campaign, as U.S. National Security Advisor Evan Medeiros and the Obama administration did with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the DPP when she was defeated by Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan’s 2012 presidential election. The U.S., however, would not be happy if Hou leads the joint ticket. The U.S. sees Hou as Beijing’s candidate, and Hou did nothing to reassure Washington when he visited the U.S. in September.
The DPP did its best to deadcat the bad news when it unveiled a list of 34 legislator-at-large nominations for the Legislative Yuan yesterday, directly after the announcement of the KMT-TPP deal. Highlights from the list include Puma Shen (沈伯洋), co-founder of civil defense organization Kuma Academy; legislative speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃); and party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘). Former Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who headed Taiwan’s response to the COVID pandemic and was expected to be named, did not make the list.
Lai Ching-te will announce his candidate for vice president next week. As previously reported in this column, he is expected to name Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴). Hsiao as a vice presidential candidate would be a clear signal to Taiwanese voters that Lai has Washington’s support.
DPP legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) on Monday expressed concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) interference in Taiwan’s 2024 elections. He asked whether any scholars or executives from Taiwanese polling firms had visited China as guests of the CCP. National Security Bureau Director Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) confirmed that, according to the National Security Bureau’s understanding, this has taken place. Chiu added that the National Security Bureau will look into whether polling firms have received funding from China.
Independent candidate Terry Guo (郭台銘) and his running mate Tammy Lai (賴佩霞) have officially qualified for Taiwan’s 2024 presidential election after the Central Election Commission (中央選舉委員會) validated the Gou’s 902,389-signature petition on Tuesday, despite evidence that some of the signatures were forged or otherwise invalid.
Taiwan’s pollsters have been relatively quiet in November. Online news outlet MyFormosa (美麗島電子報) is the only polling operation that has been consistently updating its polls this month.