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A Vote of “Not Likely” Will Not Change the Outcome in 2024

Political experts suggested that while the outcomes of the nine-in-one municipal elections would support the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), they are unlikely to have a significant impact on the presidential election of 2024 when cross-strait concerns will once again be in the spotlight.

The KMT won 13 out of the 21 cities and counties up for election on Saturday, including four of the nation’s six largest metropolitan regions, where roughly 70% of the population resides. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) gained Penghu County but lost three of the seven cities and counties it controlled. President Tsai Ing-wen () announced her resignation as party chairperson as a result of its dismal outcomes.

On Saturday, workers at a temple in New Taipei City counted the votes cast in the municipal election. Image by Ann Wang for Reuters. The ruling party chose the incorrect candidates for mayor of Taipei and Taoyuan, according to Yoshiyuki Ogasawara, a professor at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies who correctly predicted that the DPP would win only five municipalities. He also claimed that the ruling party failed to play up the China issue in the run-up to the election.

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Ogasawara stated that he believed voters’ ability to separate their thoughts regarding municipal and presidential elections was evidence of the “maturity” of Taiwan’s democracy. Because of this, he said, the KMT’s victory is unlikely to have a significant effect on 2024.

The KMT benefited from structural advantages in the local elections, such as the majority of cities and counties being more pro-KMT than the national average and from having several well-liked incumbents on the ballot, according to Kharis Templeman, a research fellow at the US think to tank the Hoover Institution.

Additionally, he suggested that the electorate may have grown “somewhat weary” of the DPP and the candidates it put up. The results from Saturday demonstrated that the KMT “has a future in Taiwan politics and [will probably] be competitive in 2024,” according to Templeman. However, the party must develop a fresh narrative for its national election campaign.

Although the elections had a local focus, they indicated that the KMT “has not been removed as a competitive participant” in Taiwan’s politics, and it should not be counted out in 2024, according to Shelley Rigger, an East Asian politics professor at Davidson College in North Carolina.

She added that the KMT must keep striving to dispel the impression that it is a “Beijing-leaning” party in the local media if it wants to remain competitive. They still need to finish modifying their messaging to reflect the general desire for the status quo in Taiwan, according to Rigger.

Robert Tsao, the founder and former chairman of contract chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp., stated on Facebook yesterday that it is “concerning” that the results of the local elections suggest Taiwan would make concessions to and try to satisfy the Chinese Communist Party.

The DPP suffered a significant defeat in the elections, but Wang Dan (), a well-known student leader in Beijing’s 1989 democracy movement, claimed that this did not indicate that voters were siding with the KMT or rejecting the government’s “counter-Beijing” approach.

Wang said there had been Internet rumors about people wanting to “give the DPP a lesson” before the polls on Saturday. The results of the elections on Saturday do not, in my opinion, indicate that Taiwanese voters now prefer the KMT over the DPP, Wang said. “I would suggest that voters should always teach any ruling party a lesson with their ballots,” Wang said.

Many young voters did not cast ballots, according to Chen Shih-min (), an associate professor of political science at National Taiwan University. This hurt the DPP’s chances, but Chen claimed that despite the DPP’s typically higher support ratings on the subject of Taiwan’s sovereignty, economic issues were what ultimately determined the outcome of the election.

According to Lin Tzu-li (), an associate professor of political science at Tunghai University, voters in municipal elections are primarily concerned with economic matters and their livelihoods, and COVID-19 has significantly harmed the service sector, which employs a significant number of people.

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