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Leader: Daniel Pearson: Taiwan's elections show its development

Taiwan on Saturday kicked off the year of international super elections with presidential and parliamentary elections. The elections demonstrate the political development in one of the world's most important democracies, writes Daniel Pearson.

It's easy to forget that because the country feels stable and entrenched as a democracy, but Taiwan's democratic transition only began in the late 1980s and the first direct presidential elections were not held until 1996. Since then, the Chinese Nationalist Kuomintang Party and the Democratic Progressive Party have been competing On power.

But this time it was an election with three actual candidates. Lai Ching-te, also known as William Lai, the current Vice President in the Democratic Progressive Party government of Tsai Ing-wen, has been leading public opinion from beginning to end. Opposition candidates, Hu Yue (Kuomintang) and Kuo Wen-ji of the more recent center-left Taiwan People's Party, have made a half-hearted attempt to create a unified opposition to a shift in power. Nothing went further than that.

On the contrary, it was appropriate When the two — along with industrial tycoon Terry Gou, owner and founder of international contract manufacturing company Foxconn, who left the KMT to run as an independent candidate before withdrawing — met in front of an open curtain at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in 2008, it was in central Taipei and it was very clear that they couldn't Of cooperation, it is the most talked about event during the election campaign.

Voters may have placed a little more blame on Ko Wen Jee for the failed cooperation. Ko came in third place, but received 26.5 percent of the votes. Ho received 33.5% support, but was beaten by Lai who, exactly according to the polls, received 40% of the vote.

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Lai, like his Democratic Progressive Party, emerged from the independence movement. Although he has had to do his best to tone down his previously more aggressive rhetoric on the issue so as not to scare off some voters, many Taiwanese view him as the candidate best suited to defend the country's democracy against China. Something that is important to many for reasons that are easily understood.

That the DPP was able to return home The presidency is an important third term. This has never happened before, and is a sign of strong support for the party's drive to reduce dependence on China. Meanwhile, Election Day was not just a resounding success for the ruling party.

In the parliamentary elections, the Progressive Democratic Party lost its previous majority. In the last period, the Progressive Democratic Party won 61 seats out of 113 seats, but it has now decreased to 51 seats. To add more salt to the wounds, the Kuomintang became the largest party with 52 seats. In addition, there are two independent candidates equally aligned with the KMT. The Trans-Pacific Partnership also increased its previous three mandates to eight.

This parliamentarian The location is something new for Taiwan. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is likely to have significant influence given its new role as the mouthpiece at the parliamentary level. It remains to be seen how and whether the party will deal with this matter. The same applies to the Democratic Progressive Party and the Kuomintang, which did not particularly focus on cooperation with other parties in the past. Now they may have to do it if anything is to happen at all in the next four years.

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An indication that this is likely to happen can be well gleaned from the fact that many political analysts on the island turned their sights to the 2028 election several weeks before Saturday's vote, when all the polls were pointing to that outcome.

As for the feedback In the election, of course, there is also reason to look across the Strait to China. As you know, the communist giant is terrified of democracy on the neighboring island. Chinese media treated the election very mildly, then mainly attacked Lai, calling him a separatist and an extremist. After the election, Beijing claimed that Lai lacked popular support and was illegitimate because he did not receive more than 50% of the votes. This is something that would disenfranchise many democratically elected leaders around the world.

China's tactics of regular military abuses and international political isolation of Taiwan will continue, despite the Lai administration and Joe Biden's attempt in the United States to signal that everyone wants to cool relations. China has so far shown no willingness to do so. Perhaps this is a situation that could change regarding the presidential elections in the United States later this year.

Daniel Pearson

Political Editor Norrbottens-Koririn