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Taiwanese President Resigns as Party Leader After Staggering Election Losses

By Kevin Zhang

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has resigned as head of the Democratic Progressive Party, the ruling party of Taiwan, after facing a multitude of local election losses on Saturday, in which voters elected officials from the opposition Nationalist Kuomintang party in several major races across the self-governing island. 

Foreign policy concerns regarding China-Taiwan relations took less precedence in favor of local issues during the elections.

Tsai had spoken many times about opposing China and defending Taiwan during campaigning for her party, but the DPP’s candidate Chen Shih-chung, who lost his bid for mayor of Taipei, only mentioned the China issue several times before switching back to local issues which attracted more interest. 

Tsai announced her resignation on Saturday evening, a tradition in Taiwan after a major election loss, in a short speech where she thanked her supporters. 

“I must shoulder all the responsibility. Faced with a result like this, there are many areas that we must deeply review,” she said.

While international observers of the election and the ruling party have tried to link the elections to the issue of the long-term threat of China, many local experts disagree that China played a large role in the election. 

Candidates from the Nationalist party won seats for mayor in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, and New Taipei city. 

The Taiwanese were electing mayors, city council members, and other local leaders in all thirteen counties and in nine cities. A referendum to lower the voting age from 20 to 18 was defeated, according to the local media. 

“I will let the world see Taipei’s greatness,” said Chiang Wan-an, the new mayor of Taipei, in a speech at a rally Saturday night declaring his victory. 

Though counting of votes had not been formally completed at the time of his speech, the numerical leads of Chiang and other Kuomintang candidates allowed them to declare victory early.

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