How Tsai Ing-wen beat a populist rival at his own game

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TAIPEI • Populism was supposed to be the winning formula. With the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) steadily campaigning on growing anxiety over threats to Taiwan's national identity, the Kuomintang (KMT), a party that favours close ties with China, risked being consigned to playing permanent opposition. Populism seemed to offer it a way out.

It was populist promises, after all, that had helped the KMT's Mr Han Kuo-yu triumph in local elections and become mayor of Kaohsiung in late 2018.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline How Tsai Ing-wen beat a populist rival at his own game. Subscribe