Taiwan awaits results of key election test and gay marriage vote

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"We must immediately roll up our sleeves and get to work", Mr Han said, speaking of what was once one of the world's busiest ports but which has lost much of its business to China.

Winning at least 15 seats, the KMT regained its footing after being badly defeated in the 2014 local elections, when it was left with only six seats, and its loss of the presidency in 2016.

Chinese state media heaped pressure on Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday after her ruling pro-independence party suffered heavy defeats at local elections at the weekend, saying Beijing would seek cooperation with newly elected officials.

The largest city in the DPP's southern heartland has been governed by the party ever since 1998.

Ko, an independent, has reiterated his stance in favor of city exchanges in areas outside of politics and has previously come under harsh criticism from DPP and pro-Taiwan independence supporters for his description in 2015 of the two sides of the strait as "one family".

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Opposition Kuomintang candidates claimed victory in mayoral races in the major cities of Kaohsiung and Taichung as well as the governor positions in Yilan, Changhua and Yunlin counties, traditionally seen as bastions of support for Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party.

The spokesman said Taiwan's democratic institutions continued to serve as a role model for the entire region, and the U.S. looked forward to finding new ways to highlight Taiwan's positive example.

Electors were also asked to vote in a series of referendums, including on whether the island should join the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as Taiwan, rather than "Chinese Taipei" - the name agreed under a compromise signed in 1981. "We have learned a lesson and must reflect on ourselves as, obviously, voters have a higher expectation of us".

As for public sentiment regarding Taiwan's relations with China, Taiwanese online media Up Media, in an opinion article published on November 25, pointed out that neither DPP nor KMT candidates mentioned at length their positions with regard to their China policy, indicating that there is a consensus among the general Taiwanese public that unification with China isn't an option.

Beijing has sought to punish Tsai and the DPP by ramping up military drills, poaching allies and successfully persuading global businesses, including airlines, to list the island as part of China on their websites. The size of the swing was evident in the popular vote: On Saturday, KMT candidates won 48.8 per cent of the overall vote, compared to 39.2 per cent for the DPP.

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The president said after the defeats that she would step down as party leader.

But some voters say worsening relations with Beijing have harmed business, while others believe she has been too conciliatory.

Nationalist Party Chairman Wu Den-yih told reporters Saturday that his party would keep trying to avoid diplomatic friction with China and ensure smooth two-way trade. It is unclear how Saturday's voting will affect legislation.

Both were won by the China-friendly opposition, the Kuomintang, which once ruled China before fleeing to Taiwan at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949. It was symbolic in nature, as the International Olympic Committee had ruled out a name change, which would be opposed by China.

The results were nevertheless criticised by political experts, who said they reflected the public's dissatisfaction with President Tsai's performance.

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