Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Won the presidential election, securing a third consecutive term with Vice President Lai Ching-te as the President-elect.
The election featured a three-way race, with Lai facing off against Hou Yu-ih from the conservative Kuomintang (KMT) and former Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP). Lai secured a 40.2 percent of the votes, according to partial results from the Central Election Commission.
Lai’s opponents, Hou and Ko, conceded defeat, showing the will of the Taiwanese people. The election results, counted from 98 percent of polling stations, showed that Hou trailed with 33.4 percent of the vote.
Despite the DPP’s success in the presidential race, they faced a setback in the legislative election, losing control of Taiwan’s 113-seat parliament.
The European Union expressed a cautious welcome for Taiwan’s democratic exercise but concerns about growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The EU addressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability.
Japan also congratulated Lai on his victory and expressed hope for a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan issue through dialogue.
China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, had opposed Lai’s candidacy, labeling him a dangerous separatist.
In the lead-up to the polls, Beijing framed the election as a choice between peace and war, underlining its insistence on unification with Taiwan.
Lai, in his victory speech, acknowledged the external pressure faced during the election, stating that the Taiwanese people successfully resisted efforts from external forces to influence the democratic process.
Lai, who served as vice president under the President Tsai Ing-wen, has maintained a stance of cautious engagement with China.
He expressed a desire for healthy and orderly exchanges with Beijing, addressing the need for talks based on dignity and parity. However, he also pledged to safeguard Taiwan from continued threats from China.
The Chinese government, in response to Lai’s victory, reiterated its stance on the inevitability of reunification with Taiwan.
The election results, seen as a setback by Beijing, may lead to increased pressure on Taiwan in the form of diplomatic, economic, or military measures. Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressed the goal of unification with Taiwan.
The U.S. response to the election is important, considering its support for Taiwan. President Joe Biden, while reiterating the U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense, addressed that the U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence. The balance in U.S.-Taiwan relations has been a point of contention with China.
The election results also show internal dynamics within Taiwan, with voters expressing concerns about economic issues such as unemployment, housing costs, and income inequality.
Lai’s victory comes at a time when China has escalated military pressure on Taiwan, raising fears of an invasion.
The DPP’s maintaining the status quo while strengthening defenses resonated with Taiwanese voters who value their democratic way of life.
The election turnout, exceeding 70 percent, underlines the Taiwanese people’s commitment to participatory democracy.
A former physician, Lai entered politics in 1998, serving as a legislator for over a decade. He became the mayor of Tainan in 2010 and joined Tsai’s government as premier in 2017.
Lai assumed the role of vice president in 2020. His victory shows a continuation of the DPP’s governance and policies, maintaining a balance in relations with both China and the U.S.