Taiwan elections: KMT candidate wins race for New Taipei mayor

KMT’s Hou You-yi beat DPP’s Su Tseng-chang by more than 280,000 votes

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Hou You-yi (侯友宜) (Image courtesy of Hou's FB page)

Hou You-yi (侯友宜) (Image courtesy of Hou's FB page)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Kuomintang (KMT) candidate has claimed victory in the nine-in-one local elections on Saturday as the next mayor of New Taipei City, managing to retain power for the opposition party that has ruled the most populous city in Taiwan for 13 years.

Having enjoyed a comfortable lead since polls opened, Hou You-yi (侯友宜), 61, defeated his rival of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), 71, by garnering more than 1.14 million votes, according to cable station TVBS.

In what has been seen as a fiercely contested match, Hou faced stiff competition from Su, a veteran politician in Taiwan, who proved his mettle governing at the local level as the magistrate of Taipei County for two terms between 1997 and 2004. Taipei County was upgraded to the status as a special municipality in 2010 and renamed New Taipei.

Boasting a population of nearly 4 million, New Taipei has been regarded as a vital constituency for the presidential race. Incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP, and former president Ma Ying-jeou of KMT, both garnered more than 1 million votes in the 2016 and 2012 general elections in New Taipei, respectively, indicating that neither party commands majority support among voters in the city.

Hou rose through the ranks during his career in the police department, including stints as head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau and secretary-general of National Police Agency (2006-2008), becoming the youngest-ever leader of the police force.

Joining the KMT in August 2013, Hou served as acting Mayor (2015-2016) and Deputy Mayor of New Taipei (2016-2018). He won the primary in April to be on the KMT ticket for the mayoral race.

Hou was confronted with a series of challenges on his campaign trail, including allegations of tax evasion against his wife, and his involvement in the arrest of Taiwanese democracy advocate Cheng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) which led to Cheng's self-immolation during the KMT’s rule.

Hou’s election platform includes continued railway construction, addressing aged housing, providing a senior-friendly environment, and most importantly, creating the “sources of pride” for the city residents.