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- The New Normal/La Nouvelle Normalité/新常態: Terry Gou in 2024 Taiwan Presidential Election: Challenge and Opportunity - August 5, 2023
Terry Gou, a prominent Taiwanese entrepreneur, has left an indelible mark on the electronics manufacturing industry through his visionary leadership and relentless pursuit of innovation. Born on October 8, 1950, in Taiwan, Gou is the mastermind behind Foxconn Technology Group, a multinational electronics contract manufacturer known for its significant contributions to the world’s tech giants. In addition to his remarkable business achievements, Gou ventured into the political sphere, actively participating in Taiwanese politics.
In 2019, Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT) party was looking for a strong candidate to run for the presidency in the upcoming 2020 elections. Terry Gou, known for his business acumen and high-profile status as the founder of Foxconn, stepped forward as a potential candidate and joined the KMT primary race. However, despite his high-profile status and financial resources, Gou faced stiff competition from other KMT candidates. In the primary election held in July 2019, he narrowly lost to Han Kuo-yu, the then-mayor of Kaohsiung, who secured the party’s nomination for the presidential race. After losing the KMT primary race in July 2019 to Han Kuo-yu, Terry Gou quit the KMT. Despite earlier indications that he might support the KMT’s nominee, he decided to run for the presidency as an independent candidate, signalling a break from the KMT’s official nomination process. Even though he eventually withdrew from the presidential race, Gou’s decision to remain neutral during the election was met with speculation and uncertainty about his intentions. This move was seen as somewhat unconventional, given that it is common for defeated candidates in a primary race to support their party’s nominee in a general election. After losing the primary and withdrawing from the race, Gou broke with the KMT after the 2019 presidential election, calling the KMT’s leadership “corrupt.”
In the 2022 local elections in Taiwan, the KMT won a significant victory. This has led many Nationalists (KMT party members) to believe they will win the presidential election in 2024. This gave Gou hope of becoming president again. On May 4, 2023, Gou apologised to the KMT and Han for his betrayal four years ago and hoped to run in the KMT primary again. However, KMT faced this presidential election with no plans to hold a primary and instead used polls to recruit. This time, Gou pledged full support for New Taipei’s mayor, Hou Yu-ih, if he loses the party’s internal polls. According to multiple internally undisclosed KMT polls, Gou’s support rate is lower than Hou’s. This time, again, Guo excused the KMT’s leadership for not publishing poll details. Nevertheless, the KMT still decided to nominate Hou to its Central Committee. However, according to multiple public opinion polls, Hou is always rank third compared to the DPP’s presidential candidate, Lai Ching-te, and the TPP’s presidential candidate, Ko Wen-je. Lai has always been the front-runner in a three-man race. Any opposite party, namely the KMT and TPP, will find it difficult to win the presidential election without cooperation. However, both parties do not have the incentive to work together at the moment.
Much evidence shows that Gou aims to run for president again as an independent candidate. Nevertheless, Hou’s support rate is still higher than Gou’s. This is to say that, Gou will be ranked fourth in this four-man race. If this is the case, voters’ support who do not like Lai will spread their support to Ko, Hou, and Gou. Thus, this scenario is best for Lai. Does this mean that Lai will definitely be the next president? Not necessary. Indeed, a four-man presidential race would create a situation in which Lai is sure to win, but it would also pressure opposition parties to cooperate. If the three groups of opposition candidates can integrate into a single group, it will have a good chance of defeating Lai.