Today, Taiwan held it’s fourth truly democratic election for president, where it elected its first president who had campaigned for closer economic relations with Beijing, paving the way for a considerable lessening of tensions between the Taiwan Straits, as reported in The New York Times “Taiwan Elects a Leader Who Seeks Closer China Ties“:
“Ma Ying-jeou, a Harvard-educated lawyer and former Taipei mayor from the Nationalist Party, won by a convincing margin. He prevailed despite a last-minute effort by his opponent, Frank Hsieh of the Democratic Progressive Party, to warn that the Chinese crackdown in Tibet represented a warning of what could also happen to Taiwan if it did not stand up to Beijing. With all votes counted, Mr. Ma prevailed 58.45 percent to 41.55 percent and Mr. Hsieh quickly conceded defeat…in election day interviews, voters echoed Mr. Ma’s stance that closer relations with the mainland and its fast-growing economy represent the island’s best hope of returning to the rapid economic growth it enjoyed until the late 1990s.”
The referendum on calling to for the island, which was mostly symbolic rather than realistic in nature, to apply to the United Nations as Taiwan and not using its legal name, the Republic of China failed. The Republic of China remains status quo and falls under the “One China Policy,” which China and the United States, and in the past, the Taiwanese government has often agreed with.
The voter turn-out was estimated to be around 75.7 percent of the electorate, which is pretty impressive when compared to America’s traditional voter turn-out rate of 50% – but not as high as in 2004, where turnout was approximately 85%.
For most of the Taiwanese-Americans and their parents I know, the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) loss is disappointing. From what I have read though, outgoing (DPP) President Chen Sui-Ben’s eight years in office has been disappointing, controversial (for his strong stance on independence), and full of corruption and mismanagement with also a decline in the economy which lead to “Chen” fatigue. Despite the tensions in Tibet, the Taiwanese electorate clearly want a more moderate approach to dealing with China than the previous eight years.