Taiwan's main opposition Nationalist Party (KMT) elected a former New Taipei City mayor as its new leader on Saturday, amid struggling by the century-old party in attracting young supporters.

Eric Chu, who has called for resuming exchanges and communication channels with China, won a landslide victory in the four-way race, defeating Chang Ya-chung, president of Sun Yat-sen School affiliated with the KMT, Johnny Chiang, the incumbent party chairman, and Cho Po-yuan, a former Changhua County commissioner.

Eric Chu declares victory at the Nationalist Party headquarters in Taipei on Sept. 25, 2021. (Central News Agency/Kyodo)

The 60-year-old former New Taipei mayor, who ran in the 2016 presidential poll from the KMT but was defeated by Tsai Ing-wen from the Democratic Progressive Party, received more than 85,000 ballots or nearly 46 percent of the vote cast in Saturday's election.

Chang garnered some 60,000 votes, Chiang about 35,000 and Cho only around 5,000.

After being declared the winner, Chu, who has campaigned on strong leadership, called for unity.

"Starting today, the KMT will become a party that is united, combative and victorious," he told reporters at the party's headquarters.

As four referendums will be held in December, Chu said it is important that two of the referendum items the party initiated, including one keeping a ban on U.S. pork imports containing feed additives, win public support.

Chu was elected New Taipei City mayor in 2010 and re-elected in 2018. He was the leader of the KMT between January 2015 and January 2016.

Chiang, who conceded defeat, said he would resign immediately and expressed hope Chu will take over the party's helm at the end of this month.

The KMT began in 1919 during the waning years of the Qing Dynasty as a youth-driven revolutionary movement.

Only 3 percent of the party's members today are under 40, reflecting the decline in support for Taiwan's unification with China, which the party has advocated, as Taiwanese born after the island's democratization starting in the 1980s no longer identify themselves as Chinese.

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