Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who was re-elected legislative speaker on Wednesday, will have headed the legislature for 17 years when he finishes his fifth term in 2016, making him the longest-serving speaker in the nation’s history.
A 71-year-old native of Kaohsiung, Wang spent years in the business world before being elected a legislator in 1976, which marked the beginning of his public service.
During his decades in the legislature, Wang, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has enjoyed popularity among legislators across party lines for his signature “easygoing” character.
In the 2002 legislative speaker election, Wang won 218 out of a possible 225 votes. At the time, the KMT held 68 seats, while the then-ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had 87. The People First Party (PFP), another pan-blue party, held 46. The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), a DPP ally, held 13. The New Party, a splinter party from the KMT, held one seat, while 10 others were independents.
In 2006, Wang and then-Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had a contretemps when they were running against each other for the KMT chairmanship. At the time, Ma suggested that Wang was involved in corruption.
In Wednesday’s election, Wang defeated the DPP’s Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) by a vote of 68-43 in the 113-seat legislature. The KMT holds 64 seats, the DPP has 40 and the TSU has three. The PFP has three seats, while the other three seats are held by independents.
Shortly after the election result came out, Wang thanked the legislators who supported his re-election bid.
“I have now shouldered more responsibility,” he said, adding that he will stick with the principle of respecting different opinions.
The KMT no longer has the overwhelming majority it had in the previous one legislature. With each party having its own caucus, Wang’s ability to coordinate between different parties and resolve their differences on issues will be tested, political commentators said.
One upcoming task facing the legislature is how it can cooperate with the government in dealing with the European debt crisis that looms over the global economy.
A proposal to construct a new building for the legislature and the TSU’s proposal to reform the “single-member constituency” electoral system are other tough tasks facing Wang in the days ahead, pundits said.