Taiwan’s main opposition party has called for a bigger government shake-up after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) landslide defeat in local elections last weekend resulted in several officials resigning.
After Taiwan’s environment, transport, and agriculture ministers stepped down from their posts on Saturday, Tseng Ming-chung, a legislator and caucus leader from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), demanded further resignations for what he said was the DPP’s loss of political legitimacy, Central News Agency reported on Sunday.
Among those who should go were the education and health ministers and the vice-chairman of the Central Election Commission, Tseng said.
The DPP lost control of seven of the 13 cities and counties it held – including its traditional stronghold in Kaohsiung – while the KMT won 15 vacancies in the November 24 elections, a crushing result for the DPP in what many saw as a referendum on President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration.
Tsai resigned as chairwoman of her pro-independence party and apologised for the “disappointing performance”, which Beijing has spun as an indication of the public’s desire for warmer cross-strait relations with the more mainland-friendly KMT.
But while relations across the strait have frozen in the last two years, analysts said the DPP’s loss might have been more about its domestic reform failures and sluggish economic growth.
On Saturday, Taiwanese Premier William Lai Ching-te met 30 ministers and ministers without portfolio to review the government’s performance, which he blamed for the DPP’s defeat.
He accepted the resignations of Environmental Protection Administration chief Lee Ying-yuan, Minister of Transport and Communications Wu Hong-mo, and Council of Agriculture chief Lin Tsung-hsien, CNA reported.
The Central Election Commission’s chairman, Chen In-chin, also stepped down last week, amid concerns about delays in vote counting and a decision to release results while voters were still in line, potentially influencing their choices.
The elections were criticised for being chaotic, with complaints about long wait times outside the 15,000 polling stations amid high voter turnout for not just the local vacancies but 10 referendums on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to nuclear power plants.
Many voters were still queuing after the official 4pm closing time – individuals are legally allowed to vote if they were in line by then – resulting in over 80 per cent of polling stations remaining open after the usual cut-off, according to the island’s United Evening News.
The commission said it would host a general election review meeting this month, according to CNA. In its report to the Legislative Yuan, it said that over a third of the more than 295,000 electoral staff were working on an election for the first time, and pledged to strengthen education and training for its staff.