TAIPEI – Taiwan’s legislature on Monday elected a new speaker from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party following its landslide victory in elections last month.
Su Jia-chyuan on Monday became the first DPP speaker of the 113-seat body after the party trounced the ruling Nationalists in the polls, winning 89 seats and its first parliamentary majority.
DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen also won a massive victory over her Nationalist rival and a third party candidate, becoming Taiwan’s first woman president-elect. She takes office in May when current Nationalist President Ma Ying-jeou steps down.
Su is a veteran legislator, former interior minister and close Tsai ally. He’s expected to lead efforts to reform the body, formally known as the Legislative Yuan, following complaints over logjams in passing legislation and too little transparency.
The DPP rode a wave of discontent with the slowing economy and stagnant wages, along with Ma’s China-friendly policies that many say benefit a small class of elites while threatening the economic future of the younger generation.
Among those taking their seats were both veterans and newcomers, among them 39-year-old Freddy Lim, lead singer with heavy metal band Chthonic. Lim’s New Power Party, which he co-founded just one year ago, emerged from an anti-Nationalist student movement and advocates Taiwan’s formal independence.
Tsai’s election throws new uncertainty over the relationship between Taiwan and China, which claims the island as its own territory, to be recovered by force if necessary. While she has vowed no change in the status quo, she has refused to endorse China’s “one China principle” as a basis for negotiations.