Domestic issues back on front burner . . .
Secure in her victory, Tsai will now have to get back to addressing issues for which her party was previously criticized, such as widening inequality, stagnant wages, and environmental pollution. While Taiwan experienced a strong economy last year, this was less attributable to DPP policy and more to external factors such as tourism and the U.S.-China trade war.
Seeking international engagement . . .
Tsai will likely seek more multilateral engagement as a way to address domestic issues. Taiwan was stung by its lack of invitation to the 25th UN Climate Change Conference in December, where it hoped to showcase its wind power initiative, even though it received low ratings internationally for its climate policy and has had recent increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Canada, however, supported Taiwan’s accession as a guest at the 40th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization, an important global forum headquartered in Montreal. Tsai has also asserted her commitment to joining the CPTPP, of which Canada is also a member. Whether Taiwan will make inroads in either area remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Beijing will likely double down on its efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically.
Engaged youth . . .
This year’s election campaigns in Taiwan included viral videos, animated advertisements, and politicians in cosplay, reflecting the participation of younger voters and candidates, many of whom were born after 1996 when Taiwan became fully democratic. It’s worth asking whether higher youth involvement in politics might usher in a long-term progressive shift, and if so, whether that might burnish Taiwan’s global image in some parts of the world. In her victory speech, Tsai emphasized that the election results demonstrate that “when our sovereignty and democracy are threatened, the Taiwan people will shout our determination even more loudly.” How the international community decides to listen and respond will do much to define Tsai’s second term.