Taiwan president quits party leadership after failed local elections

Taiwan president quits party leadership after failed local elections

The weak performance of the ruling wing in Taiwan’s local elections this Saturday (26) led the country’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, to resign as leader of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Although the elections are essentially focused on domestic matters, such as the coronavirus pandemic, the leader described the election as a way for the population to demonstrate — or not — support for the government, whose main external challenge is China.

The president stated that she resigns from the leadership because she recognizes the responsibility for the poor performance of the party in the elections. The main opposition party, Kuomintang (KMT), more favorable to relations with Beijing, is expected to emerge victorious in 13 of the 21 races for mayor and heads of Taiwanese counties.

“We humbly accept the decision of the Taiwanese people,” Tsai told journalists at the party’s headquarters, after leaving the leadership, a common practice on the island when the governing party sees its support dehydrate – the leader did the same after the bad results of 2018 “We have no time to mourn; we have fallen, yes, we will rise.”

Tsai also said he had rejected a resignation offer from Premier Su Tseng-chang, also a member of the Democratic Progressive Party. Su’s office said he agreed to stay because of the need to ensure stability amid the domestic and international situation.

His most symbolic victory took place in the capital, Taipei, where Wayne Chiang, of the KMT, defeated Chen Shih-chung, a government supporter. “I know that the results disappoint many, but we cannot lose hope; we have already lost other elections, but we were never really defeated,” he said.

The election comes about a month after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China, which consecrated Xi Jinping’s third term at the head of the Asian power. Tsai has often highlighted the factor throughout the campaign—Beijing considers Taiwan, in practice independent, a rebel province that should be reattached.

The KMT accused the president and her party of excessively confrontational China and focused its election campaign on criticism of the island’s Covid-19 policy.

The local election is seen as an important message about the 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections. In 2020, Tsai was re-elected with a promise to fight Chinese advances and defend Taiwan’s freedoms. However, she will not be able to run in the next election due to term limits.

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