Written by Debby Wu
Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn Technology Group, pulled out of next year’s presidential election in Taiwan, a move that may help unite the opposition Kuomintang party. Gou apologized to his supporters in a statement late Monday outlining his decision to withdraw from the race as an independent. He quit the KMT last week and was widely expected to announce a presidential run ahead of the Tuesday deadline for registration.
“Although I will not take part in this presidential election, that doesn’t mean I have given up politics,” he said in the statement. “I will continue to push for the policies I’ve proposed.”
Gou could still run as a candidate for one of Taiwan’s established political parties.
Gou’s candidacy threatened to sap support for the KMT’s Han Kuo-yu, who will challenge President Tsai Ing-wen in the Jan. 11 election. KMT leaders including Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, had urged Gou up until the last minute to support their nominee and help return the China-friendly party to power.
Gou’s withdrawal gives the two candidates from the main parties a clearer run in the election. Tsai leads with 49% of support, compared with 42% for Han, according to a survey released by TVBS last week.
Tsai could still face increased competition for voters who favor a stronger push for the island’s formal independence. Former Vice President Annette Lu announced her intention to run as an independent. Lu served as vice president under Chen Shui-bian between 2000 and 2008.