Tsai Ing-wen becomes Taiwan president as KMT concedes defeat

upporters of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen react to preliminary election results at their party headquarters in Taipei
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI - Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan's main opposition party will become the island's first female president after the ruling Kuomintang conceded defeat in polls Saturday, as voters turned their backs on closer China ties.

"I'm sorry... We've lost. The KMT has suffered an election defeat. We haven't worked hard enough and we failed voters' expectations," said KMT candidate Eric Chu addressing tearful crowds at the party's headquarters in Taipei.

The vote count is continuing but live television figures from polling stations show Tsai has secured a historic landslide victory, with around 60 per cent against 30 per cent for Chu.

Chu bowed deeply to distraught supporters in a sign of apology and declared his resignation as chairman of the party.

"We want to congratulate the DPP's victory, this is the Taiwan people's mandate," he said.

" Taiwan's people are the biggest winner." Chu also said that the KMT had lost its parliamentary majority, the first time it has ever lost control of the island's legislature.

Support for Tsai has surged as voters have become increasingly uneasy about a recent rapprochement with China under KMT president Ma Ying-jeou, who must step down after a maximum two terms.

As the economy stagnates, many are frustrated that trade pacts signed with the mainland have failed to benefit ordinary Taiwanese.

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