Taiwan's legislature elects opposition lawmaker as new speaker

Taiwan's legislature has elected Han Kuo-yu of the largest opposition party Kuomintang, or KMT, as its new speaker at the start of the new session.

The speakership being held by the opposition is expected to present a legislative challenge to President-elect Lai Ching-te, who takes the helm in May.

The new legislature opened on Thursday following the general elections on January 13.

The 113-member legislature has no single party holding an absolute majority. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, holds 51 seats, while the KMT has 52 seats, and the minor Taiwan People's Party has 8.

The speakership was contested by You Si-kun of the DPP, Han Kuo-yu of the KMT, and another candidate from the Taiwan People's Party.

In the first round of voting, none got the required 57 votes. A runoff was held between Han, who finished first, and You, who came in second. Han prevailed with 54 votes, against 51 for You.

Han is 66. While he was mayor of Kaohsiung in 2019, he made a controversial visit to a Chinese government office in Hong Kong. China's President Xi Jinping upholds unification with Taiwan under the "one country, two systems," which has been applied to Hong Kong.

Han ran for president in 2020 while he was mayor of Kaohsiung. He lost to incumbent Tsai Ing-wen, after being seen as conciliatory toward China.

Han was then ousted from the mayoral post later that year in a recall election. But in January's general elections, he won a seat after being placed top in the party's list of legislator-at-large nominations.