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September 21, 2017

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To DPP or not to DPP?: Ko's conundrum

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- "To join or not to join, that is the question."

The question of whether Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), a National Taiwan University physician, will join the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and run for Taipei mayor as a DPP candidate has been discussed for several months since Ko first announced his intention to run.

This question has finally gotten a clearer answer today, as a staffer for Ko said he is very likely to run as an independent candidate.

The reason why Ko hesitated for so long is quite obvious: Ko is trying to get full DPP support without bearing the burden of being a DPP representative and, at the same time, attract swing voters.

It is hard to win an election as an independent candidate in Taiwan since the candidate cannot get as many resources, whether financial support or human resources, as candidates who represent their parties. This may also influence whether or not a candidate can get enough support to win the election.

However, it is a totally different story in Ko's case.

Before stepping into politics, Ko gained fame among Taipei citizens for his work as a physician. Due to the fact that Taipei citizens are mostly pan-blue supporters, Ko knows that he cannot rush to join the DPP and depend on the support of the party. He has to win swing voters' hearts also.

Ko's recent statements suggest he is not sure about the effectiveness of joining the DPP if he wants the support of swing voters and a decent chance at winning the election.

Although Ko probably intends to run in the mayoral election as an independent candidate, it is still hard to tell if it is a good decision or not since people already know him as a pan-green supporter.

Despite having high ratings in a Taipei mayoral election poll, Ko is still not sure if the DPP will have a strong candidate of its own. This will determine whether or not Ko will get the DPP's full support.

Will swing voters really vote for Ko just because he does not have his name registered with the DPP? That we have yet to discover.

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