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Chiang Kai-shek’s great-grandson wins key Taiwan election — RT World News

The new star of the nationalist Kuomintang party has become the youngest mayor in Taipei’s history

The great-grandson of Taiwan’s former authoritarian ruler Chiang Kai-shek has become a rising star in the country’s nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) party, winning the mayoral election in Taipei.

Chiang Wan-an, who at 43 became the capital’s youngest mayor, declared victory on Saturday night after his two rivals in a three-way race conceded defeat. The US-educated corporate lawyer, who returned to Taiwan in 2013 to pursue politics, won 42.3% of the vote. His closest challenger, Chen Shih-chung of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won 31.9%.

The mayoralty of Taipei has been a stepping stone to the Taiwanese presidency in recent decades. In fact, each of Taiwan’s last four presidents, including current leader Tsai Ing-wen, served as mayor of the country’s capital before taking the national reins.

Chiang also has a family history on his side. He is the great-grandson of the man who ruled Taiwan for more than 25 years after fleeing to the island in 1949 after the Nationalists were defeated by communist forces in the Chinese Civil War. The mayor-elect’s grandfather, Chiang Ching-kuo, continued the family political dynasty as president from 1978 to 1988. Both Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo ruled until their deaths.

Chiang Wan-an’s victory marked one of several major setbacks for Tsai’s ruling party in Saturday’s local elections for mayors and county leaders. The DPP won only five seats, the worst result since its founding in 1986, while the KMT won 13. Tsai, whose current term as president runs until 2024, resigned as leader party.

A key issue on voters’ minds was rising tensions with China, which has stepped up military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and pledged to reunite with the self-governing island. Tsai had presented the contest as a referendum on “Taiwan’s persistence and determination to uphold freedom and democracy.” Beijing hailed the result, saying the election showed the Taiwanese people support peace, stability and “a good life.”

Tsai and the DPP have accelerated their efforts to remove symbols of Taiwan’s authoritarian past, such as the destruction of statues of Chiang Kai-shek. However, family ties to deceased dictators have been a winning formula in Asian politics. Park Geun-hye, the daughter of South Korean Park Chung-hee, was elected president in 2012. Current Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the son and namesake of former leader Ferdinand Marcos.

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