Taiwan re-elected incumbent President Tsai In-Wen from the pro-independence leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Saturday with 57.1% of the vote. Tsai was facing opposition from pro-Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) Party candidate Han Kuo-yu, who received 38.6% of the vote, and James Soong, from the People First Party (PFP), with 4.3%. Taiwan’s relations with China have grown tense since the DPP beat the KMT in January 2016, as Tsai has been a strong advocate for Taiwan’s de facto independence. Disagreements over Taiwan’s status since 1949 have created tensions between China and Taiwan. Now that Tsai has been re-elected for a second term, this Special Edition of Asia Watch will explore what’s next for Taiwan, what it means for Taiwan-China relations, and how the international community is reacting.
Taiwanese voters send message to China . . .
President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected for a second term with a record breaking 8.1 million votes, the largest number for any Taiwanese president since the island’s first democratic elections in 1996. Han Kuo-yu from the KMT, secured 5.5 million votes, while James Soong from the PFP secured 600,000 votes. The comeback for Tsai was a major turnaround from her standing two years ago when her party suffered major defeat in a series of local midterm elections. In this election Tsai campaigned heavily on protecting Taiwan’s democracy from China’s threats against the island, reminding voters of the crackdown in Hong Kong and rejecting the ‘one country, two systems’ model. Han in contrast ran on a platform that trade and closer ties with China could provide a solution to Taiwan’s economic problems.
New and old faces in Parliament . . .
Taiwan’s Parliament (the Legislative Yuan) also held elections which saw 113 lawmakers elected to office. Seventy-three of those seats came from geographic constituencies, 34 seats through proportional representation, and six seats from Indigenous voters. Tsai’s DPP party lost seven seats but was still able to maintain a majority in Parliament, with 61 out of 113 seats. The KMT gained three seats, securing 38 seats in total. New players have also entered Taiwan’s Parliament. The recently established Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), founded by the independent Mayor of Taipei City, Ko Wen-je, secured five seats, with the TPP becoming the third largest political party. The New Power Party (NPP), formed after the 2014 Sunflower Movement, won three seats while another new party, the Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP), won one seat. The remaining five seats went to independent candidates.
International media shines a light on Taiwan . . .
International media have paid close attention to this election as the island continues to consolidate its democracy against rising pressure from China. “This election has shown that the Taiwanese people hope the international community will witness our commitment to democratic values and will respect our national identity,” Tsai said in her victory speech. She also remained hopeful that the world would give Taiwan a “fair opportunity to participate in international affairs.” Tsai’s landslide victory not only provides her administration with a new level of democratic legitimacy, but will also give her new political capital to seek more democratic allies and defend Taiwan’s autonomy from external interference.
- Bloomberg: Taiwan 2020 Election Results
- Focus Taiwan: Full text of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's acceptance speech
- The Guardian: Taiwan election: Tsai Ing-Wen wins landslide in rebuke to China