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Pacific News Minute: Ruling Parties in Australia, Taiwan Suffer Major Losses in Local Elections

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Ruling political parties in two countries suffered serious losses in local elections in the Asia Pacific over the weekend.

“People believe in democratic values,” Taiwan’s president told reporters on Saturday night. “Today, democracy taught us a lesson.”

Triumphant just two years ago, Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party suffered major losses in Taiwan’s equivalent to U.S. mid-term elections. The DPP lost in the country’s three largest cities and saw the revival of the rival Kuomintang – the KMT.

After such a serious defeat in elections seen as a referendum on her two years in office, Tsai Ing-wen resigned as leader of her party. While she remains president, the DPP presidential nomination is now in question.

The new hero of the KMT is populist Han Kuo-yu, who ended 20 years of DPP control in the city of Kaohsiung. The results were cheered in Beijing, which greatly prefers the KMT.

President Tsai and the DPP face national elections in just 14 months, but the timetable is even more critical for the teetering ruling coalition in Australia – which must call national elections by June.

Credit Australian Labor Party (ALP) / www.alp.org.au

Stung by the loss of a once-safe parliamentary seat in the suburbs of Sydney last month, the Liberal-National coalition was just about wiped out in the state of Victoria on Saturday. The rout included traditionally conservative districts in the suburbs of Melbourne and reinforced the Australian Labor Party’s hold on what’s generally regarded as Australia’s most progressive state. New national opinion polls show Labor ahead by ten points.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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