Taiwan’s leader Ma Ying-jeou resigned Wednesday as chairman of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party after surprisingly harsh local election losses, a signal the party plans to regroup for a tough 2016 leader race and may shelve dialogue with the mainland.
Ma tendered his resignation at a meeting of the party’s Central Standing Committee. According to the party charter, the island’s deputy leader Wu Den-yih, who ranks first among the KMT’s seven vice chairpersons, will serve as the acting chairman.
Ma will remain Taiwan’s leader until 2016, when he must leave office after eight years due to term limits.
“These election results remind us to grasp strength and listen with humility,” Ma said, bowing for 10 seconds in apology as he resigned.
“I want to apologize to all of our supporters. I am ashamed. I have disappointed everyone. I must deeply, personally examine myself. There is no shirking of acceptance of the highest responsibility for the election losses.”
The Nationalists, also known as the KMT, lost nine seats Saturday, including their stronghold, Taipei, after opinion polls had forecast they would drop just three.
Their chief rival, the Democratic Progressive Party, won seven and independents took two. The pro-independence DPP wants dialogue with the Chinese mainland but rejects Beijing’s demand that it acknowledge the two sides are a single country.
Hung Hsiu-chu, who ranks third among the vice chairpersons, will serve as the acting KMT Secretary-General, replacing Tseng Yung-chuan who resigned on Saturday.
This story is compiled with information from Xinhua and The Associated Press.