NPP’s Huang beats KMT in New Taipei’s 12th district


TAIPEI — Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), a first-time candidate and chairman of the newly formed New Power Party (NPP, 時代力量), defeated veteran Kuomintang (KMT) incumbent lawmaker Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) in the 12th electoral district in New Taipei Saturday to gain a seat in the Legislative Yuan.

At a news conference at which he declared victory, Huang thanked all people who voted for him and said he hoped to help “win back this country, restore the pride and expectations of Taiwan, and ensure the future of the next generation.”

With only one booth uncounted, Huang garnered 51.5 percent of the ballots, or 79,799 votes, against Lee’s 43.74 percent or 67,765 ballots.

Huang grabbed public attention as a leader of the 2014 Sunflower Movement protests against a trade-in-services agreement with China and decided to quit his job at Academia Sinica in July 2015 to pursue politics. He has served as NPP chairman since September 2015, when it was officially established.

The NPP is a part of the so-called third-force phenomenon that arose following the Sunflower Movement” It seeks to provide an alternative to the conventional pan-blue and pan-green camps and backs universal human rights, political liberties and Taiwan independence.

Beyond China’s constant threat to Taiwan’s core values, Taiwan is facing several other major challenges, Huang said, citing a debt-ridden pension system, an unfair tax system, a fast-aging society, low wages, skyrocketing housing prices, environmental issues and an insufficient food supply.

“Now is the time for me to stand forward and find solutions to Taiwan’s decades-old problems by reforming the Legislature from its foundation,” said the 42-year-old Huang when announcing he would step down from his position at Academia Sinica.

Lee, meanwhile, was hoping to win an eighth term in the Legislative Yuan.

Lee, a staunch opponent of nuclear power and the reopening of the now mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in his own electoral district, has faced a strong challenge from Huang since the start of the campaign despite serving New Taipei constituents for decades.

Although the 12th electoral district in New Taipei — which includes Xizhi, Ruifang and Gongliao — is traditionally a stronghold of the KMT-led “pan-blue” camp, Lee was facing a tough re-election battle because of the general dissatisfaction with the KMT and the performance of the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou.