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China-Friendly Nationalists Gain Edge in Taiwan

Nationalist Party mayoral candidate Hau Ling-bin, left, holds his wife and celebrate Hau's victory, in Taipei, Taiwan, 27 Nov 2010

Taiwan's China-friendly ruling party has come out ahead in key local elections.

President Ma Ying-jeou's Nationalist Party claimed victory Saturday in three out of five mayoral elections, winning in the major cities of Taipei, Xinbei and Taichung.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party held onto mayoral seats in the southern cities of Kaohsiung and Tainan.

Election observers have said the results could help determine the outcome of the island's presidential election in 2012.

President Ma's Nationalist Party has been pushing for closer ties and more cooperation with mainland China.

Taiwan and China split nearly 60 years ago, but Beijing claims sovereignty over the island.

The campaign was marred by violence Friday, when the son of a former Taiwanese vice president was shot in the face during a campaign rally.

Hospital officials have reported that he underwent surgery and his life is not in danger. Another man was shot dead in the same incident.

Police said the gunman was arrested at the scene. They said the suspect claimed he was targeting a local city councilman.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.