Chiang Wan-an, a lawmaker of the opposition KMT, has won the Taipei mayoral race, defeating former Health Minister Chen Shih-chung of the DPP by 10 percentage points. Deputy mayor Huang Shan-shan, backed by Ko Wen-je, the incumbent mayor and chairman of Taiwan People’s Party, came in third. Voter turnout is 64%.

In a speech, Chiang described his victory as “a ray of hope shining into the darkness.” He thanked both Chen and Huang for being “respectable opponents” in this race.

Chen, admitting his defeat three hours after polls closed, apologized for disappointing his supporters. “I know a lot of people feel frustrated about the results, but we shouldn’t despair,” he said. “The DPP has lost many times in the elections in Taipei…but we have to wipe our tears and stand up again.” Chen had risen to national prominence for leading Taiwan’s pandemic response, giving daily press briefings on television.

Taipei, a KMT stronghold, hasn’t had a DPP mayor since 1998. The DPP backed the incumbent Ko, an independent, in his 2014 mayoral race, though Ko has since disappointed many in the green camp by promoting a number of proposals that align with the KMT.

Chiang, 43, has billed himself as a revitalizing force for the KMT, more than half of whose party members are above the age of 60. “People feel the KMT doesn’t have young, new blood,” he told The News Lens. “I hope with my run [for mayor] I can tell the public that there are young people who are willing to participate in public affairs.”

Meanwhile, Chiang has deep connections with the KMT’s past as the great grandson of Chiang Kai-shek, who ruled Taiwan under brutal martial law for decades, and grandson of Chiang Ching-kuo, Chiang’s son and successor. In September, as part of his election campaign, he visited a park in Taipei and bowed to a statue of Chiang Kai-shek. He told the Liberty Times, “The contributions to Taiwan by the two President Chiangs shouldn’t be erased.”

In January, after attending the opening ceremony of a library named after Chiang Ching-kuo in the new Ching-Kuo Chi-Hai Cultural Park, he revealed in a Facebook post that he was named by his grandfather Chiang Ching-kuo. “My name Wan-an was given to me by Chiang Ching-kuo in the hope I will not forget where I came from,” Chiang said. “While I cannot and will not forget where I came from, I will also learn Chiang Ching-kuo’s spirit of diligent governance and love for the people. I will make my own path and contribute to the country.”

The Taipei mayorship is considered a stepping stone for a run for president. Among previous presidents, Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou were both mayors of the capital before being elected to the head of state.

READ NEXT: An Interview With Chiang Wan-an: From “Drifting North” To “Leaving the North”

TNL Editor: Bryan Chou, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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