Taiwan’s election shock

It is normal practice for Taiwan, but it bears repeating. At a time when students and activists in Hong Kong are fighting for the right to some semblance of democratic competition, millions of Taiwanese participated in a democratic exercise unprecedented in scale on Saturday. The “nine-in-one” island-wide local elections that saw over 11,000 public offices up for grabs went off smoothly and without the merest hint of violence.

The only barricades and barbed wire on show in Taiwan on Saturday were outside Kuomintang headquarters, in anticipation of a backlash from the party’s own supporters. The last time the KMT performed so poorly – Lien Chan’s feeble third place in the 2000 presidential election – supporters surrounded the building demanding that heads roll. As the final results came in on a day of historic losses for the ruling party, President Ma Ying-jeou led top KMT figures in apologising.

Before the dust had settled on a mid-term massacre as humbling as the one suffered by US President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party three weeks earlier, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and KMT secretary general Tseng Yung-chuan had fallen on their swords. Later, Ma said he would relinquish his position as KMT chairman. With presidential and legislative elections scheduled for just over a year’s time, KMT politicians and supporters are counting the days until the toxic Ma will be constitutionally obliged to stand down after his two terms as president.

The full piece is available here.

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