The success of the “dovish” opposition in the local elections in Taiwan


“The election results were not as expected … I should take full responsibility and I am resigning immediately as DPP chair,” Tsai, who will continue as president, told reporters. The main thrust of President Tsai’s campaign was to encourage people to vote for democratic values ​​in the face of rising tensions with China. The election campaign, however, was strongly focused on local issues: air pollution in the central city of Taichung, traffic jams in the technological hub of Taipei Nangang, and strategies for purchasing the COVID-19 vaccine, which was missing on the island during last year’s outbreak. The failure of the ruling DPP – as commentators point out – may be partly due to the way it handled the pandemic. The subject of the Chinese threat did not play a key role in the defeat, as it was in the national elections in 2020. Kuomintang candidates won mayoral seats in Taipei – the capital of Taiwan, as well as in Taoyuan, Taichung and New Taipei, among others. Taiwanese elected mayors, city council members and other local leaders in all 13 counties and nine cities. There was also a referendum to lower the voting age from 20 to 18, which was rejected. Local elections in Taiwan are theoretically internal and concern issues such as crime, housing and welfare, and the elected representatives will not have a direct impact on Taiwan’s policy towards China. However, if the DPP loses many county seats, their ability to govern effectively will be hampered. The Chinese government views the Republic of China on Taiwan as a rebel province that should eventually become part of the mainland. But many Taiwanese believe that their self-reliant island – with its own form of government and democratic system – is a separate entity. The Republic of China in Taiwan is recognized by 13 countries in the world. The United States does not maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but it supports it militarily and maintains extensive economic relations with it, as do most of the world’s countries. There are two major political parties in Taiwan that have different approaches to China. Kuomintang (KMT), founded by Chiang Kai-Shek, who fled to the island in 1949 after losing the war with the communists and recognizing one China (the one based in Taipei). Currently, this grouping of rather conservative business leaders is traditionally seen as a pro-Chinese party and a dove towards China. It advocates economic involvement in cooperation with China and unification, although its politicians strongly distance themselves from calling themselves pro-Chinese. Their main rival is the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Tsai, who won by a landslide in the 2020 national elections. He takes a firm stance on mainland China, saying Beijing must show respect to Taiwan and that Taipei will not bow to pressure. The DPP was re-elected on a promise to oppose Beijing to China’s Hong Kong policy. It has in the past called for Taiwan to declare independence, but currently it does not officially raise this demand. In ideological matters, he represents liberal moral views. BBC/Associated Press/KR

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