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Online edition

Taiwan's KMT party wins legislative elections

By Joy C. Shaw
12 January 2008

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's opposition Nationalist, or Kuomintang, Party won a landslide victory in legislative elections Saturday, dealing a humiliating blow to the government's hard-line China policies two months before a presidential poll.

The Kuomintang and allies won 87 of 113 legislative seats, Kuomintang Chairman Wu Poh-Hsiung said. The Kuomintang, which favors closer ties with China, won 81 seats outright. Other opposition seats went to two small allied parties.

President Chen Shui-bian resigned as chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party immediately after his party's defeat. "I should shoulder all responsibilities," Mr. Chen said. "I feel really apologetic and shamed."

The results are a humiliation for Mr. Chen, who has been criticized for aggravating relations with Beijing by promoting policies to formalize Taiwan's de facto independence from China. Critics say that has allowed Taiwan's once vibrant economy to lose competitiveness and ratcheted up tension in the perennially edgy Taiwan Strait.

A March 22 presidential election to choose a successor to Mr. Chen, who must step down after eight years in office, pits Frank Hsieh of Mr. Chen's Democratic Progressive Party against the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou. Recent opinion polls give Mr. Ma a 20-point lead.

The Kuomintang had been forecast to win but the victory exceeded expectations and the win gives Mr. Ma strong momentum heading into the presidential election. Investors have been rooting for a Kuomintang win in both the legislative and presidential races, saying better relations with China will be good for business and financial markets.