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2020 ELECTIONS / Taiwan People's Party emerges as country's third party

ROC Central News Agency

01/12/2020 01:16 AM

Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) The Taiwan People's Party (TPP), established by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) last August, has emerged as the country's third largest party after Saturday's legislative elections.

Ko had toyed with making an independent run for the presidency but decided instead to form a political party that gave voters an alternative between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led pan-green camp and the Kuomintang (KMT)-led pan-blue camp.

Although none of the candidates the party nominated in electoral districts won seats, it received nearly 1.6 million votes, or 11.2 percent, of the political party vote used to allocate legislator at-large spots, giving it five seats in the process.

The ruling DPP retained an absolute majority in the Legislative Yuan with 61 seats, while the main opposition KMT won 38, which means the TPP will not have the leverage in the lawmaking body it may have hoped for heading into election day.

But Ko said the TPP's results met the party's expectations and stressed that his party would work with both the pan-blue and pan-green camps on a national agenda.

"In the past, Taiwan has not made any progress under the rule of either blue or green powers, and the TPP will become a new choice beyond the two parties," Ko said.

Ko said he expected the party to become a "role model" in the Legislature by examining policies based on their merits rather than focusing on politics.

The other mission for TPP lawmakers, he said, will be to learn how the central government works, which will lay the foundation for it to become the ruling party in the future.

Two other small parties gained presences in the Legislature on Saturday. The New Power Party maintained its caucus with 1.09 million votes, or 7.7 percent, in the political party vote, giving it three legislator at-large seats.

It won five seats in 2016, but internal party strife leading some of its incumbent legislators to run as independents in district races hurt its chances to remain the biggest of the small parties in the Legislature.

The last seat won by a small party was taken by Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) of the pro-Taiwan independence Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP) in a surprise win over the KMT's Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恒) in Taichung's 2nd electoral district.

The TSP also won roughly 3 percent in the political party vote determining the distribution of legislator at-large seats, but that fell short of the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats.

Losing its presence in the Legislature was the People First Party (PFP) led by the 77-year-old James Soong (宋楚瑜), who also ran in the presidential race, in what may mark the end of an era.

His party, a splinter party of the KMT that held the balance of power in the Legislature in the early 2000s, fell short of the 5 percent threshold with only 3.66 percent of the party vote.

Soong and the PFP, which favored more conciliatory relations with China, struggled to gain traction in an election in which favoring better relations with China was a non-starter with many voters.

Soong's presidential campaign, in which he won just over 4 percent of the vote, was also not enough to get the PFP over the top in the political party vote.

A total of 43 parties vied for the Legislature's 113 seats.

Seventy-three lawmakers were directly elected in winner-take-all districts, six were reserved for indigenous candidates elected by indigenous voters, and 34 were designated as at-large seats and allocated based on the separate political party vote.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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