Taiwan is poised to elect its first female leader after the two largest political parties nominated women to contest next January’s presidential election. Hung Hsiu-chu, 67, a former teacher whose fiery style has earned her the nickname “Little Hot Pepper”, was officially selected on Sunday as the candidate for the ruling Nationalist party (KMT). She will compete against Tsai Ing-wen, 58, the candidate nominated by the opposition Democratic Progressive party (DPP) in April. Tsai, currently the party’s chairwoman, is a trained lawyer who studied at Cornell University and the London School of Economics before forging a career in academia and politics back home.
Speaking last month in Washington, she said: “Taiwanese people are faced with a very serious test next year – that is whether we are advanced and civilised enough to accept a woman leader.”
In the runup to Sunday’s nomination, Hung told reporters: “I hope this battle between two women will bring forth a whole new understanding and set an example of true democracy.”
Experts said the KMT candidate has a mountain to climb if she is to win over enough of the self-ruled island’s 18 million voters to defeat her rival, who narrowly lost the 2012 election.