Attention turns to presidential polls after DPP thrashing


Jubilant: KMT supporters celebrating preliminary results in the Taipei mayoral election at a rally in Taipei. — Bloomberg

TAIPEI: Attention is turning to Taiwan’s next presidential election in 2024 after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was thrashed in local elections, with President Tsai Ing-wen’s move to focus on China backfiring with voters.

The main opposition party, the Kuomintang, or KMT, romped to victory in the mayoral and county elections, winning 13 of the 21 seats up for grabs, including the capital Taipei, in line with expectations.

None of those elected have direct say in policy on China.

China views the island as its own territory and has been ramping up military activities to assert those claims, fuelling global concern especially given Taiwan’s major role as a semiconductor producer.

The KMT traditionally favours close ties with China but strongly denies being pro-Beijing. It had been on the back foot since 2020’s presidential election loss, and also suffered a blow last December after four referendums it had championed as a show of no confidence in the government failed.

Tsai resigned as DPP chairwoman after the defeat, the worst showing in the party’s history, and is now left with just five mayor or county chief positions.

She had framed the vote as being about showing defiance to China’s rising bellicosity, especially after it held war games near the island in August and President Xi Jinping, who has vowed to bring Taiwan under Chinese control, won an unprecedented third term in office last month.

But Tsai’s strategy failed to mobilise voters, who disassociated geopolitics from the local elections which traditionally focus more on issues from crime to pollution.

Turnout on Saturday was at record low, just 59% for Taiwan’s six most important cities, compared to an overall figure of around 75% in 2020.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said last week that Taiwan was seeing less Chinese interference ahead of the local elections, possibly due to China’s own domestic problems with Covid-19 and its efforts to improve its international image. — Reuters

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!
   

Next In Aseanplus News

Asean News Headlines at 9pm on Sunday (Feb 5, 2023)
India opposition attacks Modi on silence over Adani allegations
Thaipusam festivities return with foot procession and live music
China’s power in Asia diminished by Covid Zero, study shows
China's mega project diverts 60 billion cubic meters of water to dry north
China's consumption recovery off to a strong start in 2023: Fitch
DOJ to deport four fugitives to Japan before Marcos trip
Interior ministry calls for expired ID cards to be updated ahead of election
Youth movement shapes young leaders
The critical role Asean and EU play in restoring biodiversity

Others Also Read