Taiwan elections: Ko Wen-je re-elected Taipei City Mayor

Ko Wen-je beats KMT’s Ting Shou-chung in thrilling finish, recount pending

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Ko Wen-je

Ko Wen-je (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Independent candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was re-elected Taipei City Mayor on Nov. 24, overcoming rivals Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) of Kuomintang (KMT) and Pasuya Yao (姚文智) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

In a neck and neck battle throughout the count, Ko narrowly overcame Ting by 3,254 votes, and was the frontrunner throughout the election campaign.

Before the count was finalized on Nov. 25, Ting said he will contest the result.

Ko received 580,820 votes in sum, or 41.05 percent of total votes, while Ting recieved 577,566 votes, or 40.82 percent of total votes, according to the Central Election Commission.

Meanwhile, Yao recieved 244,641 votes.

Ko, a former surgeon and professor of medicine, retained his seat after first being elected in November 2014, ending 16 years of KMT rule.

Ko ran a wide-ranging campaign in which he stressed his independence from the two major parties. He received significant attention for his non-conventional approach, which included a karaoke session with his family during a rally, and a viral rap video.

Ko was first elected Mayor with endorsement from the DPP. This time around, the DPP chose to run their own candidate as differences of opinion developed. Ko alienated some DPP supporters by suggesting Taiwan and China are “part of the one family.”

The local elections have yielded a disappointing outcome for the nationally-ruling DPP, who are set to lose control of six cities and counties.

KMT candidates Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕), and Hou You-yi (侯友宜) were respectively voted in as new mayors of Kaohsiung, Taichung, and New Taipei City. While the DPP’s Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) and Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) retained their positions as respective mayors of Tainan and Taoyuan.

In the aftermath of the suboptimal results, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) resigned as chairwoman of the DPP, and Premier William Lai (賴清德) also offered his resignation, which was rejected by Tsai.

On Nov. 24, the people of Taiwan went to the polls to elect more than 11,000 officials, as well as voice their opinion on 10 referendums ranging from same-sex marriage to energy production, and from food import bans to Taiwan’s international sport moniker.