Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, just resigned from her post atop the country’s Democratic Progressive Party, BBC News reports.
This comes after Tsai’s party had a poor showing in the country’s recently held local elections. These elections were a major event in Taiwan as all 13 of the country’s counties and all nine of its cities had people up for election.
According to reports, Tsai, as leader of the Democratic Progressive Party, focused campaigning around China, specifically the threat that China poses to Taiwan’s autonomy and Democracy.
For those unfamiliar with the situation, China disputes Taiwan’s independence, insisting that Taiwan is a part of China and subject to its control. Taiwan, so far, with the support of western allies, has maintained its independence. But, there have been signs that China is growing increasingly aggressive toward Taiwan.
Tsai’s attempt to make the elections about China’s threat to Taiwan apparently did not resonate with voters.
In several major races that took place, Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party lost to the opposition, Kuomintang.
One notable example is the race to be the mayor of Tapei. This race is particularly important because it is seen as a stepping-stone to the Taiwan presidency. Here, Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party lost to Chiang Wan-an, the Kuomintang candidate.
Kuomintang candidates also won several other big races, including seats in Taoyuan, Taichung, and New Taipei city.
It was following these disappointing results, on Saturday, that Tsai decided to step down as the head of the Democratic Progressive Party.
“The election results were not as expected,” she said. “I should shoulder all the responsibility, and I resign as DPP chairwoman immediately.”
We don’t know exactly why it is that Taiwan voters sided with Kuomingtang over the Democratic Progressive Party. A major difference between the two parties is clearly their approach to China.
Kuomintang denies that it is a pro-China group. But, it is certainly more pro-Cina than Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party, as Kuomintang is in favor of there being a strong economic relationship between Taiwan and China. Kuomintang, in general, claims that its position is a “middle path,” one based on “rationality.”
Yeh-lih Wang, a political science professor at National Taiwan University, though, suggested a different explanation for Tsai’s lack of success in the recent elections.
“The international community has raised the stakes too high. They’ve raised a local election to this international level, and Taiwan’s survival,” Wang said. “So, I think if you can’t even raise this issue in Taipei, you don’t even need to consider it in cities in the south.”