Taiwan President resigns as head of party after losses in local elections

The Latest Taiwanese reject gay marriage new Olympic name

Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is also hoping to perform well as more than 11,000 seats are up for grabs in municipalities, counties, townships and villages across the country.

Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen quit as leader of Taiwan's governing party after defeats in local elections.

Ahead of the vote, Tsai and DPP officials repeatedly accused China of meddling in the lead-up to the elections by operating a "fake news" campaign.

Tsai said she would resign as chairwoman of the party in the wake of the result.

Votes were still being counted in Taiwan's affluent capital Taipei, where the incumbent mayor Ko Wen-je, an independent, is in a close race with the Kuomintang's Ting Shou-chung, and the DPP is running a distant third.

The Kuomintang, meanwhile, won at least 15 seats, regaining its footing after being badly defeated in the 2014 local elections, when it was left with only six seats.

A spokesperson for the US State Department praised Taiwan for "demonstrating the strength of their vibrant democratic system through a successful round of elections".

The 10 referendum proposals involved a wide range of issues, including whether to legalize same-sex marriage, whether to reduce thermal power plant production to curb air pollution, whether to ban food imports from radioactive contaminated areas in Japan, and whether to use "Taiwan" as the name to participate in worldwide sporting events such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Polling stations reported long lines of people waiting to vote.

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What do the local elections mean for the ruling party? Beijing has been ratcheting up pressure on the island it claims as its own territory by poaching its diplomatic partners and barring its representatives from worldwide gatherings, while staging threatening military exercises and limiting the numbers of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan.

Tsai's domestic reform initiatives, from the island's pension scheme to labor law, have also come under intense voter scrutiny recently. Other critics have denounced the government for failing to cut a budget deficit or reduce pollution.

"This is a small step for myself, but a big step for mankind", said Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist who had petitioned Taiwan's Constitutional Court to take up the issue.

Taiwan is voting in a referendum on whether to become the first place in Asia to legalise gay marriage.

The vote presents a major defeat for rights activists who had campaigned for equal marriage.

"The nine-in-one elections are a vote for the public to inspect the government's performance, and the results show the public obviously is not satisfied", he said.

Taiwan's top court legalised gay marriage in May 2017 and ruled that it must be brought in within two years. Beijing, which has never given up its claim to Taiwan, denies the allegations.

Voters were also asked whether the island should join the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as Taiwan, rather than "Chinese Taipei", the name agreed under a compromise signed in 1981.

The referendums come as an extra headache for Tsai and the DPP.

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