Kaohsiung voters have ousted Mayor Han Kuo-yu on Saturday in a recall election.

Han, a former presidential candidate in Taiwan’s 2020 general elections, was voted out of his mayoral position by 938,186 Kaohsiung voters. He is the first Taiwanese politician to be recalled in the country’s democratic history.


Photo Credit: Ping Fang Lee

Voters cheer outside of the “Recall Han Kuo-yu” campaign office as the vote count surpasses the minimal threshold in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, June 6, 2020.

Han expressed gratitude towards the Kaohsiung residents who support him, and thanked those who did not come out to vote.

“The 1.3 million Kaohsiung voters who did not participate in the voting today... thought this was an unacceptable, unfair referendum,” Han said, accusing the ruling Democratic Progressive Party of inciting a “smear campaign” against him.

Wecare Kaohsiung, a group leading the recall campaign, filed the initial recall petition in December 2019 prior to the presidential election.

The group accused Han of betraying his promise to Kaohsiung since he abandoned his mayoral duties only four months after taking the position, taking a leave of absence to run for President.

In the petition letter released by the Central Election Commission in May, Wecare Kaohsiung stated that Han’s approval rate is among the lowest in the country, and that his racist, sexist remarks have harmed the city’s reputation.

“The emergence of ‘Han wave’ was the result of an abnormal intrusion of red media into Taiwan’s democracy. Only when we recall Han Kuo-yu can we correct the damages caused by the red media infiltration,” the petition read.

Han answered the petition by listing 15 achievements during his term, including efforts to boost tourism in Kaohsiung and attempts to attract investments for the “Love Ferris Wheel” project in the old port area.

This is not the first time Han has faced a recall election. In 1994, environmental groups tried to initiate a recall of Han along with three other Kuomintang legislators, but the recall failed to gather enough petition signatures.

The Cabinet will have to appoint an acting mayor before a new mayor is elected within three months.

This article was updated at 6:36 p.m. on June 6, 2020.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)