The opposition KMT, which has maintained closer ties with China when in power, pledged to "work hard to maintain peace in the region", as its chairman declared victory at a press conference.

Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party lost four mayoralties out of six up for grabs including the capital Taipei.
Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party lost four mayoralties out of six up for grabs including the capital Taipei. (AFP)

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has stepped down as head of her ruling party after it suffered defeat in local elections, while the Beijing-friendly main opposition held its ground.

"The election results were not as expected.... I should shoulder all the responsibility and I resign as DPP chairwoman immediately," Tsai, who will stay on as president of the self-ruled island, told reporters on Saturday evening.

Voters turned out to cast ballots for mayors, magistrates and various other posts in 22 cities and counties, while there was also a referendum on whether to lower the voting age from 20 to 18, which was rejected.

Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party lost four mayoralties out of six up for grabs including the capital Taipei.

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT), which has maintained closer ties with China when in power, pledged to "work hard to maintain peace in the region" as its chairman declared victory at a press conference.

"We will dedicate ourselves to the Taiwanese people selflessly, we will be selfless so the KMT can have a chance to win the (presidential) elections in 2024," said Eric Chu.

READ MORE: Taiwan votes in local elections amid China tensions

Source: AFP