Taiwan President Resigns as Head of Party after Losses in Local Elections
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced her resignation Saturday as head of the Democratic Progressive Party after the party suffered a “crushing defeat” in local government elections, according to state media.
The Central News Agency reported Tsai apologized to supporters for the ruling party’s “disappointing performance” in a speech at its headquarters, and she took full responsibility for the party’s losses.
Although she resigned as the party head, Tsai — the first woman to be elected President of Taiwan — will serve out the remainder of her term. The next presidential election is scheduled for January 2020.
According to CNA, Tsai said while her administration is moving in the right direction, the election results were proof that the Taiwanese people are setting a higher standard for their government.
The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party is expected to undergo a “major reshuffle” soon, Tsai said, to prepare for the challenges ahead, CNA reported.
Premier Lai Ching-te echoed Tsai in a Facebook post, saying the election results indicated the public’s dissatisfaction with the government’s performance.
Lai had offered to resign earlier Saturday and take ownership of the party’s defeat, but Tsai asked him to stay on as premier to ensure the continuity of the government’s policies and initiatives.
Tsai was elected President in a landslide victory in January 2016 after a political career mostly as an outsider. She joined the Democratic Progressive Party in 2004 and was its chairwoman by 2008. She lost her first bid for the presidency in 2012 and resigned as the party head before taking the mantle back up in 2014.
Tsai is a lawyer by training and studied at National Taiwan University before continuing her studies by earning a master of law degree from Cornell University and then a doctorate from the London School of Economics.
Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Sunday: “The results reflect Taiwan people’s strong wishes to continue enjoying benefits of peaceful cross-strait relations and to keep improving the economy and their livelihood.
“We will continue to firmly oppose ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and their activities and unite the people of Taiwan to take a path of peaceful development in cross-strait relations.”
According to CNA, a State Department spokesperson said in an email to the news agency, “The United States congratulates the people of Taiwan for once again demonstrating the strength of their vibrant democratic system through a successful round of elections.”
The spokesperson said the United States looks forward to working with both old and new counterparts “to continue our fruitful cooperation on a wide range of issues of mutual concern,” CNA said.
Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan remains an important American ally in the region, and the Trump administration has sought closer ties between Washington and Taipei.
America’s alliance with Taiwan has long been lambasted by officials in Beijing.
Decisions on same-sex marriage, Olympic name
In Saturday referendums, Taiwan voted against legalizing same-sex marriage.
According to state media, the three referendum questions initiated by anti-LGBT groups passed, while those put forth by same-sex marriage advocates did not.
For instance, the majority vote was yes on question 10, which asked, “Do you agree that Civil Code regulations should restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman?”
The votes came after Taiwan’s high court passed a resolution in May 2017 ruling it was unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage.
Taiwan lawmakers had a two-year deadline to enshrine marriage equality into law. Lawmakers reached a deadlock and put the question to the public in the form of a referendum.
In another referendum, Taiwan voters opposed participating in sporting events under the name “Taiwan.”
Question 13 asked, “Do you agree that Taiwan should apply to participate in all international sporting events and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, using the name ‘Taiwan’?” State media said more people voted “no” than “yes.”
Based on results of the vote, Taiwan will continue to participate under the name “Chinese Taipei.”
Taiwan may compete in Olympic Games but must use a special Olympic flag and anthem and participate under the name “Chinese Taipei,” as decided under the 1981 Lausanne agreement.
China issued a statement on that referendum question.
“The result shows the lack of public support for the gambit of using the interest of Taiwan athletes as a wager,” Ma said. “Any attempt at ‘Taiwan independence’ is bound to fail.”