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International

Taiwan's China-skeptic ruling-party candidate wins presidential election

18:18, Saturday, 13 January, 2024
Taiwan's China-skeptic ruling-party candidate wins presidential election

Lai Ching-te of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is Taiwan's new president-elect, after a three-way election that will determine the self-ruled island's future stance towards China.

Since its founding in the 1980s as an alliance of underground dissident groups, the DPP has now secured a third term in the presidential office, a first in Taiwan's short democratic history.

This year's election came after more than a month of intense campaigning from all three parties, each making the case that they would improve the island's economy while best protecting Taiwan from China.

Lai's election "portends tensions with China"
     Analysts say the DPP presidential victory portends tensions with China, which has vowed to control Taiwan one day and has not ruled out a military invasion to do so. Beijing has repeatedly accused Lai of being a "separatist" and last April, Beijing sanctioned his vice presidential running mate, Bi-khim Hsiao.

In his victory speech, Lai said Taiwan is willing to talk to China "on the basis of dignity and parity", but he also said his administration will be "determined" to safeguard Taiwan from threats and intimidation from China.

"[Beijing] will use more economic coercion, diplomatic coercion, more informational warfare, and maybe more on the trade instead of using the military approach," said Fang-yu Chen, a political science at Soochow University in Taipei. "But that being said, we still have to get ready."

Saturday's voting closed at 4 p.m. on Saturday, with the KMT conceding the presidential race before 8 p.m.

"I'm sorry I disappointed my supporters, and I would like to apologize," KMT's Hou told the media. Ko Wen-je, of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), also conceded defeat.

Saturday's presidential vote was closely contested, with the KMT garnering more than 3.9 million votes, and the TPP about 3.1 million. DPP won more than 5 million votes.

For security reasons, Taiwan does not allow absentee voting, mandating that all voters cast their ballots in-person, on paper only. The physical ballots are then counted by hand at every polling station, a process that is completely open to the public.But Taiwan's election is not just about China
     The rise of the TPP in Taiwan's traditionally two-party political system has reflected voter fatigue with the perceived corruption and ideological rigidity of both the DPP and the KMT, the island's more established parties, analysts say.

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