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the president leaves the head of her party after a defeat in the local elections

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced on Saturday that she was stepping down as head of the ruling party after a defeat in local elections. Taiwanese were notably called to the polls for the municipal and provincial elections, an election that Tsai Ing-wen described as a test to demonstrate “Taiwan’s resilience and its determination to defend freedom and democracy”, in the face of threats from Beijing. But the DPP lost four of the six main cities on the island of 23 million people, including the capital Taipei.

“Rise up to the next challenges”

“The election results are not what we expected. I take full responsibility and immediately resign from the presidency of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP),” she told reporters. “But we don’t have time to get sad, we have to rise up to face the challenges of the current international situation and the future,” she added. Tsai Ing-wen will remain president of the island, however, a position she has held since 2016.

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Voters were also called upon to decide by referendum on a lowering of the legal age to vote from 20 to 18, which was rejected.

Chinese pressure

After turning the page on decades of martial law in 1987, Taiwan has become one of Asia’s most vibrant and progressive democracies. This is enough to worry neighboring China, which considers the island as part of its territory and which has sworn to regain control, by force if necessary. Since the arrival in power of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party considers Taiwan a de facto sovereign nation, Beijing has implemented several measures. It cut off official communications with the island, intensified its military exercises, toughened economic pressures and wrested seven of its diplomatic allies from Taiwan.

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Tensions between Taipei and Beijing reached their highest level last August, after the visit of Nancy Pelosi, an American political figure, to which Beijing responded with gigantic military maneuvers. But the threat of a conflict did not weigh on concerns during this election, where local issues were mainly discussed. The opposition, dominated by the Kuomintang party, is more in favor of a rapprochement with China, which promised on Saturday to “work hard to maintain peace in the region” and to prepare to win the next presidential election in 2024.

“Relations with China weren’t really on the election agenda this year, but they will be in 2024,” said Sung Wen-ti, a teacher at the Australian National University who specializes in Taiwan. interviewed by AFP. Tsai Ing-wen had already resigned from the presidency of the DPP in 2018, after a defeat in the local elections, before winning a large victory in the presidential election of 2020.

Source: Europe1

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