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The Democratic Progressive Party stays in power in Taiwan

Lai Ching-te becomes the new Taiwanese leader after defeating Hou Yu-ih (Kuomingtan) and Ko Wen-je (Taiwan People's Party).

Imagen de archivo del vice presidente Lai Ching y la presidenta Tsai Ing-wen durante un acto de campaña (Cordon Press)

(Cordon Press)

Taiwan's electoral polls closed this Saturday and, with all the votes counted, the island has already decided who its next president will be. As the latest polls indicated, after Tsai Ing-wen, who could not run for re-election after serving her second and last term, the presidency will be passed down to her vice president, Lai Ching-te.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will stay in power in Taiwan. It earned the support of 40.1% of voters. Coming in second place is the Kuomintang (KMT) candidate and mayor of New Taipei City, Hou Yu-ih, who obtained 33.5% of the votes. The third place is occupied by the former mayor of Taipei and representative of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), Ko Wen-je, who got 26.5% of the vote.

The elections in Taiwan were far from being merely a local issue. How China will react to the Taiwanese vote has made these elections one of the big hot spots on the international agenda for 2024. The result was the worst possible for the Chinese communist leaders, who consider Taiwan as a rebellious region of their own territory. Lai Ching-te, the winner, rejects Chinese claims and promotes the Taiwanese identity.

However, during his victory speech, Lai Ching-te did not rule out dialogue with Beijing. Taiwan's new president, who referred to the country by its official name, assured that his political party is more than willing to dialogue with China and reach an agreement: "Maintaining cross-strait peace is an important mission for me as president. I’ll abide by the constitution of the Republic of China," he declared.

The surprising third-place

The TPP consolidated its position in Taiwanese politics and earned third place, which was what the polls had predicted. Its leader, Ko Wen-je, recognized the DPP's victory but also highlighted what his party was able to achieve. This election cycle was the first time the party made the ticket. "I believe that in four years the TPP will still get votes from our supporters. One day we will get our own victory," Wen-je said.

KMT representative Hou Yu-ih wasn't as lucky. The party leader apologized to his voters but conceded victory to Lai Ching-te: "I respect the ultimate choice by the Taiwanese people," he declared.

The DPP and KMT have shared power since the first presidential elections in 1966. Pushed by young people, the party founded by Ko Wen-je himself at the end of 2019 based its campaign on the high cost of housing and low wages, criticizing other parties for focusing too much on China. During the campaign, he also claimed that he was the only "acceptable" candidate for both the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.

The elections, which also decided the outcome of 113 legislative seats, were a complete success. The Central Election Commission was pleased with the positive level of participation and highlighted the turnout of close to 70% in cities such as Taipei, Tainan and Taoyuan.