Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party was dealt a landslide defeat in local elections on Saturday, which prompted the resignation of the premier while leaving the party weak ahead of a presidential vote in 2016.
The Nationalist Party, also known as Kuomintang (KMT), is the ruling party that Beijing prefers to deal with. KMT won just six out of the 22 seats for city and county heads, far fewer than the 15 it won in the last election. The main opposition, Democratic Progressive Party, won 13, while three went to independent candidates in the election, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Premier Jiang Yi-Hua, an appointed position, and KMT Party Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan both stepped down in response to the election results. The government has said a cabinet reshuffle will take place, most likely next week.
This decision will likely set the stage for significant turnover and possibly reforms in the country.
In Taipei, independent candidate Ko Wen-je, backed by the pro-independence party, defeated the KMT candidate Sean Lien, the son of a wealthy and well-connected family. Every president of Taiwan has been a former Taipei mayor since the introduction of direct presidential elections in 1996, Reuters reported.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Kou Hsin-tai” author_title=”Taiwanese voter and Ko supporter”]
They’re making Taiwan far too dependent on the mainland. Their policy-making muscle is far too focused on cross-strait ties and not nearly enough on raising the standard of living of the average Taiwanese person.
The worse-than-expected election results underline growing unpopularity of President Ma Ying-jeou and his policies in attempting to forge stronger ties with China.
The election came just months after protesters from what the Taiwanese media called the “Sunflower Movement” occupied Taiwan’s parliament and the city to protest the trade agreement between Taiwan and mainland China, its longtime adversary, which was signed last year, CNN reported.
Critics of the deal said it would threaten small Taiwanese businesses while giving China greater control of the country. This local election was the first chance for voters to show their views since thousands protested in the streets.
Taiwan and China separated after a civil war in 1949, although China still claims Taiwan as a territory. China still reportedly has missiles pointed at the island.