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Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s pro-China strategy took a harsh rap over the weekend. In island-wide local elections, young voters came out in force to reject Ma’s efforts to develop closer ties with the mainland. His ruling Kuomintang, or KMT party lost nine of their 15 city mayor and county chief positions — and Ma himself lost much of his mandate to promote cross-strait ties in his last two years in office.

The most stinging defeat came in the Taipei mayoral race. Every president since 1996 has been a former Taipei leader. The victory by Ko Wen-je, backed by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, was “like Republicans losing Texas,” Sean King of Park Strategies told Bloomberg News.

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