Leading Mayor of Taiwan’s main opposition party lost an acrimonious recall vote on Saturday, which augurs new problems for the party, which is already in shock to lose the January elections due to strong sentiment anti-chinese.
The Kuomintang (KMT) was severely beaten in the January presidential and parliamentary elections. Since then, under the leadership of a young and young leader, Johnny Chiang, the party has attempted to rethink its unpopular policy of seeking closer ties with China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu won city hall in the southern city of Kaohsiung at the end of 2018, an upheaval as he had previously been a stronghold for the Party Democratic Progressive (DPP) in power in Taiwan.
But he has been the subject of constant criticism that he has no interest in the city, particularly when he took three months off his new post as mayor to run for president. The vote on Saturday was to determine whether he should be recalled as mayor.
Han, who had called on people to boycott the vote and shop instead, told reporters after the vote against him that he had been the victim of a DPP smear, but did not say whether he would contest the result before the tribunal.
“It was an unfair and unjust election,” said Han.
The PDP said in a statement that the elections proved that power came from the people and called it “an important milestone in the history of Taiwan’s democratic development.”
KMT president Chiang said the party respected the outcome and expressed “remorse” that he was against them.
“We did not fully grasp the warmth of the citizens of Kaohsiung, and we did not respond well to the expectations of the people of Kaohsiung,” he said.
At 6 p.m. local time (10:00 a.m. GMT) on Saturday, the city’s electoral commission said more than 900,000 people voted for Han’s recall, compared to some 25,000 who voted against the recall.
The Taiwan Election Commission has yet to formally approve the decision, which is expected to take a week. Once done, Han will be laid off and a new mayoral election, in which he cannot run, will be called within three months.
The electoral commission approved the recall vote after a petition organized by WeCare Kaohsiung, a civic group, which applauded the result.
The DPP won the January elections by promising to stand up to China, describing a vote for the KMT as a vote for the Chinese Communist Party, an accusation that the KMT has firmly and repeatedly rejected.
Taiwan has shown no desire to be ruled by China, which has never given up on the use of force to bring the island under its control.
The recall vote took place amid new Chinese-led anti-government protests in Hong Kong against a Beijing-imposed security law that critics say would undermine most freedoms. Protesters enjoy strong cross-party support in Taiwan.