Taiwan: Ruling Party Loses Local Elections
Taiwan's main opposition party trounced the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in local government elections on Saturday. The Nationalists (Kuomintang or KMT) won 50.96 percent of votes, giving them 14 out of 23 county and city magistrate posts across the island, said the Central Election Commission.
The DPP won 41.95 percent of votes and grabbed six seats. The remaining three seats went to KMT allies.
"Today's election outcome is a major defeat for our party. It's a stern warning to the DPP from Taiwan's people," said DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang. "As party chairman, I am willing to shoulder all responsibility and resign."
Chen and the DPP's approval rating has dived due to a corruption probe into a subway project in the city of Kaohsiung involving the president's former deputy chief of staff.
Chen has tried to consolidate his core pro-independence support base with anti-China rhetoric at election rallies, warning voters a victory by the KMT, which favours closer ties with Beijing, would undermine Taiwan's sovereignty.
China claims the self-ruled island of 23 million as its own to be brought back to the fold, by force if necessary.
The DPP advocates a separate identity for Taiwan, whereas the KMT and its allies oppose Taiwan independence.
DPP PLEDGES TO REFORM
In the KMT camp, opposition party leaders celebrated their
first landslide election victory since losing two successive presidential races
to Chen in 2000 and 2004.
In the last city and county polls in 2001, the DPP and its allies had won 10 seats whereas the opposition had 13 seats.
The Central Election Commission said nearly 8.9 million people cast ballots, or 66 percent of eligible voters.