ELECTIONS 2022/Taiwan People's Party wins 14 city, county councilor seats in electoral debut

11/27/2022 02:44 PM
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Ko Wen-je, Taipei mayor and Taiwan People
Ko Wen-je, Taipei mayor and Taiwan People's Party chairman. CNA photo Nov. 26, 2022

Taipei, Nov. 27 (CNA) In its first time competing in the nationwide "9-in-1" local government elections since its establishment in August 2019, the Taiwan People's Party (TPP) won 14 seats in Saturday's city and county councilor races, marking the most impressive performance among Taiwan's smaller political parties.

In the elections, the TPP, chaired by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), secured four seats in the capital Taipei and 10 other seats in New Taipei, Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, Taichung, Changhua County, Nantou County, Yunlin County, as well as Hualien County.

This meant the TPP won more seats than its older counterparts such as the New Power Party (NPP), which secured six seats; the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), which won three seats; the Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP), which won two seats; and the New Party and the the Social Democratic Party, which each won one seat.

In addition to its 14 city and county councilor seats, the TPP also secured the mayoral seat in Hsinchu City as its candidate Kao Hung-an (高虹安) upset her DPP rival Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹) and the Kuomintang (KMT)'s Lin Ken-jeng (林耕仁), while independent Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊), a former deputy of Ko who was also backed by him in this election, lost to the KMT's Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) in Taipei.

Political observers said the TPP's showing in the local government elections demonstrated the young party's success in expanding its presence in the local government level and is expected to give Ko a boost for his possible entry in the 2024 presidential race.

Observers said the TPP benefited from its strategy of fielding young candidates to bigger cities and counties, in particular in Taipei, where Huang Ching-ying (黃瀞瑩) garnered the highest number of votes in the city's first electoral district of Shilin and Beitou, and Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞 ) won the second largest amount of votes in the second electoral district of Neihu and Nangang.

In Saturday's polls, the TPP fielded a total of 90 candidates, including 48 in the six largest cities -- Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung -- which indicated the party's focus on urban areas, observers said.

While Ko, a doctor-turned-politician who was elected Taipei mayor in 2014, told reporters that he would return to his medical practice after his second term concludes at the end of this year, sources from the TPP said that he had begun learning about a wide range of issues to boost his knowledge in preparation for a presidential bid.

The sources said Ko had also begun mapping out a national policy white paper and adjusting himself in an attempt to appeal to a wider spectrum of voters.

Meanwhile, the NPP lost ground in the 2022 local elections with its number of seats in city and county council races falling sharply from 16 to six after it lost all five of its seats in Taipei. The party said the results failed to meet its expectations and expressed regret to its supporters.

As for the TSU, Liu Yi-te (劉一德), head of the party, said the TSU put forward five candidates in the city and county council elections and won three seats: one each in Yunlin County, Tainan, and Kaohsiung, all in southern Taiwan, due to persistent backing from its supporters.

In the six largest cities in Taiwan, where a total of 377 councilor seats were up for grab Saturday, the KMT won 167, the DPP secured 152, the TPP took six, and the NPP bagged one.

In the other 16 cities and counties, where a total of 533 seats were up for grabs on the same day, the KMT won 200, the DPP secured 152, the TPP took eight, and the NPP won five.

In Taipei, the most closely watched race in the country, where a total of 61 councilor seats were up for grabs, the KMT won 30 seats, up one from 2018, and the DPP gained 21 seats, also up one from 2018, but both failed to secure the absolute majority in the city council.

At the city mayor and county magistrate levels, the KMT scored a big victory, taking 13 of the 21 cities and counties up for grabs, including four of the country's six biggest metropolitan areas, where nearly 70 percent of Taiwan's people live, while the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) saw its number of local government head posts fall from seven to five, and was swept out of power in the northern half of Taiwan, resulting in the worst performance in the DPP's 36-year history.

After the crushing defeat, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced on Saturday night she would step down as chairperson of the DPP, potentially creating uncertainty for the party 14 months ahead of Taiwan's next presidential election.

There will be one more local election race to come as the mayoral vote in southern Taiwan's Chiayi City will be held in Dec. 18. It was postponed after 72-year-old independent candidate Huang Shao-tsung (黃紹聰) died on Nov. 2.

(By Wang Yang-yu, Wang Cheng-chung, Fan Cheng-hsiang, Chen Chun-hua Kuo Chien-shen and Frances Huang)

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