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It has been a rough year for Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou. His popularity ratings have been falling, dragged down by sluggish economic growth and doubts about his commitment to the protection of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Concern about his policy toward the mainland prompted a student seizure of Parliament last spring.

Those worries have been magnified in recent weeks in the wake of the unrest in Hong Kong, and they crystallized last month in a stunning defeat for the ruling party in local elections held throughout Taiwan. More than 11,000 positions were up for grabs in local elections where positions ranging from village chiefs to mayors were at stake.

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