Taiwan President Quits as Party Leader

Tsai Ing-wen's party suffered heavy defeats in local elections
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2022 8:40 AM CST
Taiwan President Quits as Party Leader
Local residents' temperatures are checked before casting their ballots at a polling station in New Taipei City, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.   (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen resigned as head of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party following local election losses on Saturday suffered by her party. Voters in Taiwan overwhelmingly chose the opposition Nationalist party in several major races across the self-ruled island in an election in which lingering concerns about threats from China took a backseat to more local issues, the AP reports. Tsai had spoken out many times about "opposing China and defending Taiwan" in the course of campaigning for her party. But the party’s candidate Chen Shih-chung, who lost his battle for mayor of Taipei, only raised the issue of the Communist Party’s threat a few times before he quickly switched back to local issues as there was little interest, experts said.

Tsai offered her resignation on Saturday evening, a tradition after a major loss. "I must shoulder all the responsibility," she said. “Faced with a result like this, there are many areas that we must deeply review." She will continue serving as president until the 2024 election, reports Reuters. While international observers and the ruling party tried to link the elections to the long-term existential threat that is Taiwan’s neighbor, many local experts didn't think China—which claims the island as its territory to be annexed by force if necessary—had a large role to play this time around. "The international community has raised the stakes too high. They’ve raised a local election to this international level, and Taiwan’s survival," says Yeh-lih Wang, a political science professor at National Taiwan University.

During campaigning, there were few mentions of the large-scale military exercises targeting Taiwan that China held in August in reaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit. Campaigns had resolutely focused on the local: air pollution in the central city of Taichung, traffic snarls in Taipei’s tech hub Nangang, and the island’s COVID-19 vaccine purchasing strategies, which had left the island in short supply during an outbreak last year. Candidates from the Nationalist party won the mayoral seat in Taipei, Taiwan's capital, as well as in Taoyuan, Taichung, and New Taipei City.

(More Taiwan stories.)

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