The significance about these mayoral elections in Taiwan, in Taipei, this weekend is that a candidate who is not affiliated with any political party has won as the mayor of Taipei. This is a victory for everyone who opposes the power deadlock of two-party political systems.
Ko Wen-Je, the Taipei mayoral candidate who won the election, a doctor, could become president of Taiwan even in the near future. He is a person who was more-or-less unknown two years ago, yet he has waged a brilliant campaign despite having less money than the incumbent Nationalist Party which is widely seen as totally corrupt and that seeks to unify Taiwan with China.
Taiwan’s governing party suffered heavy losses in local elections. In response to the widespread defeat of the party, which favours closer ties with China mainland, the prime minister resigned. Mayor-elect Ko Wen-je celebrated his win Saturday evening at his campaign headquarters in Taipei.
The election results, including a victory by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party in the central city of Taichung, signals that Taiwan’s to date ruling Chinese Nationalist Party, known as the Kuomintang or K.M.T., will be up against it to retain the presidency in the 2016 election.
The Kuomintang’s losses also suggest that the Taiwan electorate is turning against party efforts to forge those closer ties with China.
As Beijing has moved to enforce stricter controls over voting reforms in Hong Kong, a policy that has set off protests known as the Umbrella movement, voters in Taiwan have said their sense of unease with China mainland and its Beijing governing Chinese Communist Party has heightened.
The effect of the mayoral contest could alter the balance of political power in Taiwan
“The result is a very strong signal not only to the K.M.T., but a signal to Beijing, too,” said Hsu Szu-chien, a scholar of Chinese politics at Academia Sinica, a state-financed research institution in Taipei to the media. “Particularly after the Occupy Central movement, I think Taiwanese voters are alarmed looking at the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong.”
Some commentators see this election not so much as a DPP victory, as a KMT defeat and a sound rebuke against Ma. Others openly remark that they hope this is the beginning of the end of the KMT with its highly problematic history and despite that it tried a clean break with its violent and corrupt past a decade of so ago.
The loser is from the very wealthy Lian family. Sean Lien is the eldest son of Lien Fang Yu and Lien Chan, who served as the Chairman of the Kuomintang party and was the Vice President of Taiwan. Sean’s father and grandfather were “humble” public servants making very meager salaries. Cough, cough. Very few people know where their wealth came from. Cough cough. But knowing commentators are sure Sean Lian will be back as the family has very thick skin.
The KMT is one of the world’s wealthiest political parties, with billions of dollars stashed away in Swiss banks. Anyone thinking that the KMT is finished better think again, they reckon. So far, corruption has ruled in Taiwan’s fragile democracy. As said, it’s very difficult to really break with the past!