The Latest: Taiwan ruling party suffers loss in local polls
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The Latest on local elections in Taiwan (all times local):
Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party has suffered a major defeat in local elections seen as a referendum on the island’s president amid growing pressure from China.
Saturday’s elections for mayors and thousands of local posts are a key test for the 2-year-old administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, whom Beijing has relentlessly attacked over her refusal to endorse its claim that Taiwan is a part of China.
Tsai’s DPP lost the mayorship to the Nationalist party in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, where it had held power for 20 years. The Nationalists ruled Taiwan for decades after it split from mainland China in 1949 amid civil war.
The Nationalists also defeated the DPP in the central city of Taichung, while Ko Wen-je, the independent mayor of Taipei, the capital, appeared on track for a second term.
Taiwanese have begun voting in midterm local elections seen as a referendum on the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, amid growing pressure from the island’s powerful rival China.
The elections that follow Tsai’s landslide victory in 2016 will decide the races for 22 mayors and county magistrates along with thousands of local officials.
Driven from power two years ago, the opposition Nationalists hope to regain territory by counting on their pro-business image and a more accommodating line toward Beijing.
Since her election in 2016, Tsai has maintained Taiwan’s de facto independent status while avoiding calls to declare formal separation from the mainland.
China has been ratcheting up pressure on the island it claims as its own territory by poaching away its diplomatic partners, cutting official contacts and staging threatening military exercises.