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ELECTIONS 2022/Chiang Wan-an wins Taipei for KMT in tight three-way mayoral race

11/26/2022 08:02 PM
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Chiang Wan-an (front, center), Kuomintang
Chiang Wan-an (front, center), Kuomintang's (KMT) nominee in Taipei mayoral race, is seen in Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 26, 2022

*The story was updated at 10:41 p.m. with final vote count and remarks from three candidates. 

Taipei, Nov. 26 (CNA) Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) of the Kuomintang (KMT) won a resounding victory in the Taipei mayoral election Saturday, based on initial vote counts, which showed him leading Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and independent candidate Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊).

Chiang, a 43-year-old ex-legislator and the purported great-grandson of late president of Republic of China (Taiwan) Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正), called his win at 8:00 p.m.

"We have done it together – this victory belongs to every citizen of Taipei. It is a win for light over darkness, for good over evil," Chiang said in his victory speech.

Chiang expressed gratitude to Huang and Chen, saying that the advice and suggestions provided throughout the campaign by his two "admirable opponents" had taught him a great deal.

He vowed to keep a campaign promise to recruit talented individuals to his government regardless of their political affiliations to continue and increase Taipei's international profile.

While the vote count was still ongoing, the initial results showed Chiang with a comfortable lead in the city's record-breaking field of 12 candidates.

Chiang finished with 575,590 votes, or 42.29 percent of the total, according to the Central Election Commission(CEC).

Health Minister Chen, who became a household name as the public face of the DPP administration's COVID-19 response, was in second place, with 434,558 votes, or 31.93 percent, according to the CEC.

In his concession speech, Chen thanked his backers for their support over the past months while apologizing to them and pledging to take full responsibility for the loss.

"Now the people of Taipei have chosen another candidate, I would like to ask all of you to join me in extending sincere congratulates and best wishes to Chiang," Chen said.

Chen said he had phoned Chiang to congratulate him and expressed hope that the capital could go from strength to strength under the new mayor's leadership.

Huang, who had been serving as deputy Taipei mayor for the past three years, had the third-highest number of votes, with 342,141 votes, or 25.14 percent, the CEC data showed.

In her concession speech, Huang called on Chiang to keep his promise to reform the city in the years ahead.

She also thanked her backers for their support in a hard-fought campaign over the past three months.

While Chiang's win will be seen as a boon for the KMT's ambitions to take back the presidency in 2024, the victory was not a complete surprise, given the DPP's struggles in Taipei over the years.

The ruling party's sole win in the capital's mayoral election was in 1994, when Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), then a 44-year-old legislator, clinched 44 percent of the vote in a tightly fought three-way race, six years before he went on to win the presidency.

In an effort to prevent a similar split of the pan-blue vote this year, Chiang and the KMT framed the election as a binary choice by focusing almost entirely on attacking Chen Shih-chung over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

According to a source within Chiang's campaign team, this strategy effectively sidelined Huang in the minds of the electorate and encouraged tactical voting.

Elected to the Legislature in 2016, Chiang was one of only seven KMT lawmakers to vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in Taiwan in 2019.

He has displayed a progressive bent on a number of other issues, advocating for the renaming and rededication of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and providing restitution to the victims of political persecution under Taiwan's former authoritarian government, among other proposals.

Chiang put policy rather than name recognition at the center of his campaign, with proposals such as providing financial support to new parents and expanding access to social housing to reverse Taipei's population decline, which proved popular among undecided voters.

On Nov. 10, Chiang announced that he was resigning from the Legislature to show his determination to win the election, a move analysts said had fired up voters to cast their ballots in his favor.

Chiang earned a J.D. degree -- a professional law degree and an academic credential -- at State University of Pennsylvania in 2006, and he worked as a lawyer for startups in Silicon Valley before returning to Taiwan in 2013.

He campaigned on a promise to bring innovation to Taipei and transform it into a global, livable, technological, and inventive city where people can pursue the Taipei dream, similar to Silicon Valley.

Chen Shih-chung, DPP nominee in Taipei mayoral race, is seen in Taipei Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 26, 2022
Chen Shih-chung, DPP nominee in Taipei mayoral race, is seen in Taipei Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 26, 2022

The DPP's Chen Shih-chung, a relatively unknown figure prior to fronting the government's pandemic response, left his role as health minister in July to make his first-ever bid for public office via the ballot box.

His decision to resign, however, was quickly and relentlessly attacked by Chiang, who accused Chen Shih-chung of abandoning his responsibilities while the pandemic was raging.

DPP heavyweights touted Chen Shih-chung as the best CECC chief, saying that his administrative ability, international vision, and a sense of mission to safeguard democracy made him the most qualified Taipei mayoral candidate.

Chen Shih-chung campaigned on 212 policy platforms in 19 categories, ranging from urban regeneration, transportation, social welfare, and social housing, to green energy projects.

He contended that the KMT, as well as the Taiwan People's Party (TPP) that was established by incumbent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in 2019, had both failed during their time in office to meet the expectations of the city's residents.

During his campaign, the 69-year-old Chen Shih-chung, who rarely smiles, tried to tap into youth culture to draw young voters, but a series of blunders backfired on his campaign.

Despite a laborious tour of Taipei's 12 districts to meet with voters face-to-face, Chen Shih-chung consistently polled behind Chiang, often by a sizeable margin.

Huang Shan-shan, former deputy Taipei mayor and independent candidate for Taipei Mayor, is seen in Taipei Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 26, 2022
Huang Shan-shan, former deputy Taipei mayor and independent candidate for Taipei Mayor, is seen in Taipei Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 26, 2022

Meanwhile, the 53-year-old Huang, who served as a city councilor for 21 years before her appointment as Ko's deputy, had presented herself to voters as the only candidate with the experience to navigate municipal issues and city politics.

She opted to run as an independent, in the hope of replicating the success of Ko's nonpartisan campaigns in 2014 and 2018, distancing herself from the two pan-blue parties in which she had previously held membership - the New Party and People's First Party.

Huang's campaign was closely watched, as it was seen as giving some clues to how Ko might fare if he decides to run in the 2024 presidential election.

She had criticized her two rivals over what she said was their constant sparring with each another, and she urged voters to elect her as the first female mayor of Taipei, if they had had enough of the "vile competition" between the KMT and the DPP.

However, the KMT's line was that a vote for Huang was one for the DPP, a claim that proved effective and left the former deputy mayor in third place, amid a return of the green-blue dichotomy in the city.

(By Joseph Yeh, Wang Cheng-chung, Wu Jui-chi, Chen Yu-ting, Chen Yi-hsuan, Liu Chien-bang)


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