Legislative elections

Historic change as KMT loses long-held Parliament majority

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters holding up their mobile phones outside the party headquarters as they anticipate an election victory for Ms Tsai Ing-wen. The DPP swept to a landslide victory by capturing 68 seats, compared with the 35 won by Kuomintang. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Taiwan witnessed a historic change of power, after the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lost its long-held majority in Parliament, signalling voters' desire for a more diverse political system.

The ruling party was not only trounced by the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) but also lost several seats to new-kid-on-the-block, the New Power Party (NPP), in the legislative elections last night.

The KMT, which leads the blue camp, managed to win only 35 of the 113 seats up for grabs, losing almost half of its 64 seats from the 2012 elections.

This is the first time that the KMT does not have the majority in the Legislative Yuan since direct legislative elections were introduced in Taiwan in 1992.

The DPP swept to a landslide victory, capturing 68 seats while the rest were clinched by independents and other parties including NPP, which made a breakthrough by picking up five seats.

Thelegislature is made up of seats in single-member constituencies, at-large seats andaboriginal seats.

Leading the pro-independence green camp, the DPP managed to unseat the KMT in its traditional blue strongholds across Taiwan, turning districts in Taipei, Taichung and Hualien green.

With the DPP getting the lion's share of parliamentary seats, it will be easier for the party and its chairman, President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, to push ahead with reforms, including crafting economic policies or negotiating with China.

But Ms Tsai said at a press conference last night that the DPP will work with all parties and put political polarisation behind.

While the KMT had been projected to lose its majority, one of the surprises was how it lost some of the crucial battlegrounds to the opposition.

One of the KMT's biggest losses of the election was in Keelung, with its vice-chairman Hau Lung-bin conceding defeat to relatively unknown city councillor Tsai Shih-ying from the DPP.

Mr Hau, the son of a former premier and himself a former Taipei mayor who was touted as a possible future presidential candidate, announced that he will step down.

The year-old NPP, founded by young activists like death metal band singer Freddy Lim, did well to win five seats. It had aimed to pull in young voters and in the end, it delivered, handing seats occupied by KMT veterans to political rookies.

Among them is 32-year-old Ms Hung Tzu-yung, who beat her KMT opponent Yang Chung-ying in Taichung District 3, who has served for nearly 20 years.

Ms Hung said: "We will use the results in this election to bring the power of the people into Parliament. It's the people who have put me in this position and given me this responsibility."

Political analyst Yen Chen-shen said young voters contributed significantly to the DPP'sresounding win, explaining that many might have come out to vote in response to what is said to be a forced apology by Taiwanese K-pop singer Chou Tzu-yu for waving the Taiwan flag in an online broadcast.

The research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the National Chengchi University said: "The young people want to see new faces, new voices, who can offer new ideas.

"Whether these ideas are feasible enough to become policies, I'm not sure. But I don't think people will care for now. They will give the young legislators the benefit of the doubt," he added.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 17, 2016, with the headline Historic change as KMT loses long-held Parliament majority. Subscribe