Published: Sun, November 25, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Taiwan premier offers resignation after local election trouncing

Taiwan premier offers resignation after local election trouncing

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's bid for a second term is in doubt after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) crushing setback in Saturday's (Nov 24) local elections. She joined the Democratic Progressive Party in 2004 and was its chairwoman by 2008.

Pro-China Kuomintang takes 15 districts compared to DPP's six.

She will remain as president and her resignation will have no direct effect on the business of government, although the results bode ill for her re-election chances in two years.

"The [poll] results reflected the strong wishes of Taiwan's general public that they want to continue to share the benefits of peaceful developments in cross-Taiwan Strait relations, as well as improving the economy and living standards", mainland China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said. Significantly, it lost one of its most steadfast strongholds, the southern city of Kaohsiung.

In the Saturday elections, the DPP lost seven of its 13 cities and counties to main opposition Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT).

In a Facebook post, Premier William Lai said he also had offered his resignation to Tsai.

Observers said the DPP's shock defeat in local polls was an indictment of policies they felt had not helped ordinary people.

"But this is not support for the Kuomintang from the people".

Incumber mayor Ko Wen-je, an independent, secured a narrow victory, while the DPP candidate came in a distant third.

It suspended official exchanges with the island after Tsai was elected president in 2016 and refused to reaffirm the 1992 consensus and accept the one-China principle.

"As chairperson of the ruling party, I will take complete responsibility for the outcome of today's local elections", she told reporters.

"Rather it won because voters were disappointed with the DPP and Tsai's performance", he said.

An election worker displays a ballot during vote count at a polling station in Taipei.

Candidates fanned out across the island to shake hands and canvass votes, and held noisy, colourful rallies that have become the hallmarks of Taiwan's vibrant democracy, in marked contrast to China where the Communist Party tolerates no dissent to its rule.

Tensions have also increased between China and Taiwan in recent months, after China conducted numerous military drills in the Taiwan Strait and has successively stolen a number of Taiwan's dwindling diplomatic allies, including El Salvador.

"This is a small step for myself, but a big step for mankind", said Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist who had petitioned Taiwan's Constitutional Court to take up the issue.

Justices told legislators then to make same-sex marriage legal within two years, a first for Asia where religion and conservative governments normally keep the bans in place.

The official results of the 10 referendums not expected to be announced until 2 a.m. Sunday because the ballot counting will not start until the election votes are counted, which is expected at about 9 p.m., the CEC said.

College student Kwan Chin-shun, 18, voting in Taipei, said she supported equal marriage rights.

Meanwhile other organisations welcomed the result.

A vote to compete under a Taiwan banner would further rile Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Pro-Taiwan independence activists call for the referendum on the streets in front of the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) during a demonstration in Taipei on October 20, 2018.

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