Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow Robert Manning writes for the National Interest on the results of Taiwan’s local elections:
Forget the South China Sea. The results of Taiwan’s local elections last week, still reverberating in Beijing, are more likely than not to propel Taiwan’s ascension to the status of No.1 security problem in Asia over the coming two to three years.
That is one consequence of the shellacking Taiwan’s ruling KMT party took in last week’s local elections. The ruling KMT lost thirteen of twenty-two cities and counties, including the Mayoralties in Taipei (by an opposition-backed doctor) and Taichung. All told, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party took 47.5 percent of the vote to 40.7 percent garnered by the ruling KMT.
This sets the stage for the 2016 presidential elections. President Ma Ying-jeou, whose popularity was in single digits before the elections, is finishing his second term and cannot run again. So humbled was Ma that he resigned as chair of the KMT. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose constitution calls for Taiwanese independence, has fuzzy positions on many key issues, but is nonetheless now well positioned for 2016.