The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won a resounding victory over the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in yesterday's local government elections, in a win attributed to voter unhappiness with the DPP's poor performance and entanglement in recent scandals.
The KMT won 14 out of 23 city and county constituencies, while the DPP -- which previously controlled 9 counties and cities -- won just six seats.
Among the constituencies that changed hands from the DPP to the KMT were the traditional pan-green strongholds of Taipei and Ilan Counties. The DPP also lost Chiayi City, long an anti-KMT sanctuary during the days of Martial Law and the dangwai democracy movement.
"This is not a triumph for the KMT but for the Taiwanese people," KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said in a victory speech last night. "The DPP was not defeated by the KMT, but by itself."
Ma had said that he would resign if his party failed to get at least 11 candidates elected in the commissioner and mayoral polls.
Yesterday's vote was called a "three-in-one" election because it combined county commissioner and city mayor elections, county and city councilor elections and township chief elections.
Although yesterday's elections were local government polls, the ruling and opposition parties considered the results crucial to gaining momentum ahead of the 2008 presidential election, raising the stakes in the contest.
In two key races, the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Luo Wen-chia (
Although the KMT has often been criticized for its poor campaign strategy, analysts attributed the party's success to its relentless criticism of the government's poor record and tenacious pursuit of a recent string of scandals, including the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal and the "vultures" insider-trading case.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who said that he would resign as chairman if Luo lost in Taipei County, or if the party failed to win at least 10 seats in the commissioner and mayoral polls, offered to resign last night.
Su said that his party accepted the election results, and he called on the public to continue to have faith in the DPP.
"The DPP has lost one election, but Taiwan cannot lose," Su said.
To express their regret over the defeat and accept responsibility for the outcome, Su, Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun and Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) bowed to the public three times.
66 percent turnout
The DPP garnered about 3.7 million votes -- around 42 percent of the total, while the KMT received 4.5 million votes, or about 51 percent. The Central Election Commission estimated the turnout to be approximately 66 percent of registered voters.
The DPP held on to its southern strongholds of Pingtung County, Tainan City and county and Kaohsiung County, while the KMT took control in northern, central and eastern Taiwan.
Three remote counties on outlying islands remained loyal to the pan-blue camp, with Penghu, Kinmen County and Lienchiang County -- the official administrative title for the Matsu archipelago -- all firmly controlled by the pan-blue alliance. Kinmen County went to the New Party, while Lienchiang County went to the PFP and Penghu went to the KMT.