Taiwan: Taiwan's Ruling Party Defeated in By-elections
Below is an article published by AP:
Taiwan's ruling party suffered its third major electoral setback in two months Saturday, losing three of four by-elections despite the president's efforts to boost his sagging public support.
The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party won legislative seats in Hsinchu, Taoyuan and Chiayi counties, the Central Election Commission said. The ruling Nationalist Party won one seat in Hualien, it said.
Despite the setback, the Nationalists still dominate the 113-member legislature, controlling 74 seats against the DPP's 33.
Nationalist Party lawmaker Sun Ta-chien said the public had unreasonably high expectations of the government amid the economic downturn.
The DPP's strong showing is sure to boost its morale, allowing it to hit harder at President Ma Ying-jeou, especially his signature policy of forging closer economic ties with rival China.
Ma's support rating in public opinion polls has plunged to between 20 and 30 percent since August, when Typhoon Morakot killed an estimated 700 people and his administration was widely criticized for botched rescue and relief efforts. When he took office in May 2008, his support rating was above 60 percent.
Ma has relaxed restrictions on trade and investment with China and launched direct air and shipping links.
He is pushing for a free trade pact with China this year which the DPP says would undermine Taiwan's sovereignty and cost thousands of jobs.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and China continues to claim the island as its own.
Ma has tried hard to restore public confidence in his government.
Early this month, Su Chi, one of Ma's most trusted advisers who headed the National Security Council, was replaced after coming under fire for a government decision to lift a partial ban on imports of U.S. beef.
Facing accusations that its policies favor big businesses, the Cabinet this week scrapped a plan to cut a business tax for large conglomerates, sparking an outcry from business leaders.
Ma has pledged to bring the jobless rate down to 5 percent this year from a record high of 6 percent in 2009.
Observers also blamed the Nationalists' electoral setbacks on bitter rivalries among local politicians which led to split votes among ruling party supporters.
The Nationalists lost three by-elections to the DPP in January and faced another setback in county chief polls in December.