Taiwan president resigns from party leadership position

After disappointing election results, the president of Taiwan has announced her resignation from her party leadership position, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Tsai Ing-wen made the announcement that she is relinquishing her spot atop Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party on Saturday.

“The election results were not as expected,” she said.

“I should shoulder all the responsibility, and I resign as DPP chairwoman immediately,” Tsai added.

Background

Taiwan recently held local elections. It was a major event as all nine of Taiwan’s cities and all 13 of its counties had at least one government position up for grabs.

These elections saw Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party up against Kuomintang, the opposition party.

As the Democratic Progressive Party’s leader, Tsai was responsible for campaign messaging. And, she decided to make the election about China, specifically about the threats that China poses to Taiwan and its Democracy.

Taiwan, with the help of western allies, has been fighting to maintain its independence from China. But, China insists that Taiwan is a part of its country, and, therefore, under China’s control. In recent times, China has been showing greater aggression toward Taiwan.

Kuomintang, in contrast, took a different approach to the elections, one that it referred to as a “middle path” based on “rationality.” As part of its approach, Kuomintang advocated for a strong economic relationship between Taiwan and China.

The elections

Based on the election results, Kuomintang’s messaging resonated more with Taiwan voters than did the messaging of the Democratic Progressive Party.

The Democratic Progressive Party lost a number of key races to Kuomintang candidates, including races in Tapei, Taoyuan, Taichung, and New Taipei. The race for Tapei’s mayorship is of particular importance as it is viewed by many as being a stepping stone to the Taiwan presidency.

It is these defeats that caused Tsai to step down from her leadership post.

It is not immediately clear why Tsai’s tough-on-China messaging did not resonate with Taiwan voters, especially considering that such messaging easily won Tsai the presidency in 2020. Local experts believe that the problem could have been that Tsai pushed a national issue for local elections.

Yeh-lih Wang, a political science professor at National Taiwan University, explained:

The international community has raised the stakes too high. They’ve raised a local election to this international level, and Taiwan’s survival. So, I think if you can’t even raise this issue in Taipei, you don’t even need to consider it in cities in the south.

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