Taiwan Opposition Leader Ko Says He Plans to Run for President

(Bloomberg) -- The leader of one of Taiwan’s main opposition parties said he plans to run for president in next year’s election, raising the stakes in talks with another group which also wants its candidate to lead a joint ticket.

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Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party said at a campaign event Sunday that he would “unite all forces that can be united and continue to fight to the end” as his party’s nominee for president.

The TPP was in talks in recent days with the Kuomintang party to decide which of their candidates should lead a combined campaign as the presidential nominee. The discussions faltered over how to interpret opinion poll results and determine who has the best chance of winning the Jan. 13 election.

Candidates have until Nov. 24 to register to run in the election.

A unity ticket by the KMT Hou Yu-ih and the TPP’s Ko would sharply increase their odds of success against the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. Without it, both opposition parties look destined to face defeat against Vice President Lai Ching-te, who has led polls for much of the campaign.

Investors are closely monitoring for signs of the deal officially sealing — or falling apart. Last week, the local dollar strengthened and the benchmark equity index rose as traders saw the opposition tie-up as potentially reducing geopolitical tensions surrounding Taiwan. Areas of progress seen during the US-China summit also boosted sentiment.

Both Ko and Hou have backed warmer cross-strait relations with China. Beijing cut off communication after the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen became president in 2016 due to her refusal to acknowledge Taiwan as part of Chinese territory.

An alliance is still on the table. The TPP after the campaign event that it’s still open to negotiations with the KMT, though Ko’s latest remarks suggest he will only participate if he leads the joint-ticket.

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