Focus Taiwan: Young candidates, underdogs prevail in several legislative races

Taipei, Jan. 12 (CNA) Taiwan’s legislative elections saw several young politicians prevail in high-profile races, and some candidates claimed victory independent of the country’s political mainstream dominated by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Kuomintang (KMT).

In the 79 races in which candidates were directly elected rather than through a party vote for legislators-at-large, 14 new faces emerged.

In one of the night’s more closely-watched races, in New Taipei City’s rural 12th District, 27-year-old DPP candidate Lai Pin-yu (賴品妤) narrowly edged out her KMT opponent in a field of three.

Lai, a former student activist and cosplay enthusiast, entered the race in September, after the district’s incumbent, the NPP’s Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), announced he would run on his party’s legislator at-large list, leaving a lesser-known NPP candidate to try and defend the seat.

Meanwhile, in Taipei City’s 4th District, 39-year-old DPP city councilor Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) upset KMT incumbent Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) by a 50-47 percent margin.

In doing so, Kao leveraged a national profile built through her frequent appearances on political talk shows to overcome Lee’s deep family connections to the district, which was previously represented by her father and grandfather.

However, in a battle between two rising political stars in Taipei’s 3rd District (Zhongshan and Songshan districts), KMT incumbent Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) was able to hold his seat against DPP challenger Enoch Wu (吳怡農).

Chiang, the great-grandson of former President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), is seen as modernizer within the party, and is often tipped as a future candidate for Taipei mayor.

He nevertheless faced a strong challenge from the 38-year-old Wu, who ultimately lost by a 51-45 percent margin.

One of the night’s most shocking results came in Taichung’s 2nd District, where 34-year-old Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) became the first-ever candidate of the pro-independence Taiwan Statebuilding Party to win a seat in the Legislature, narrowly defeating KMT incumbent Kuomintang Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恆), the scion of a local political dynasty.

Finally, in Hualien County’s single legislative district, independent Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) defeated one-term DPP legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) by a 46-41 percent margin.

Despite the KMT’s estimated 60-40 demographic advantage in the district, Hsiao won the seat in 2016 with 54 percent of the vote, far outperforming DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) 37 percent.

The results were a testament to Fu’s strength in the region, given that he was only released from prison in April, and is currently facing a separate lawsuit, which is pending before Taiwan’s High Court.

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