Taiwan president resigns as party leader after election loss


PRESIDENT Tsai Ing-wen (pic) has resigned as head of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party following local election losses by her party.

Tsai offered her resignation yesterday evening, a tradition after a major loss, in a short speech in which she also thanked supporters.

She said she will shoulder the responsibility as she had hand-picked candidates in Saturday’s elections.

Voters in Taiwan overwhelmingly chose the opposition Nationalist party in several major races across the self-ruled island in an election yesterday in which lingering concerns about threats from China took a backseat to more local issues.

Chiang Wan-an, the Nationalist party’s mayoral candidate, won the closely watched seat in capital Taipei.

“I will let the world see Taipei’s greatness,” he said in his victory speech Saturday night. Other Nationalist party candidates also won mayoral seats in Taoyuan, Taichung and New Taipei city.

Not all votes had been formally counted by the time of his speech, but Chiang and the other candidates’ numerical lead allowed them to declare victory.

Kao Hung-an, a candidate in the relatively new Taiwan People’s Party, won the mayoral seat in Hsinchu, a city home to many of Taiwan’s semi-conductor companies.

Taiwanese were picking their mayors, city council members and other local leaders in all 13 counties and in nine cities. There was also a referendum to lower the voting age from 20 to 18.

While international observers and the ruling party have attempted to link the elections to the long-term existential threat that is Taiwan’s neighbour, many local experts do not think China has a large role to play this time around.

“The international community has raised the stakes too high. They’ve raised a local election to this international level, and Taiwan’s survival,” said Yeh-lih Wang, a political science professor at National Taiwan University.

During campaigning, there were few mentions of the large-scale military exercises targeting Taiwan that China held in August in reaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

“So I think if you can’t even raise this issue in Taipei,” Wang said. “You don’t even need to consider it in cities in the south.” — AP

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