Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party is the opposition no more – the DPP won the presidency in Saturday’s elections in a landslide victory that resets Taiwan’s political landscape.
DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen handily defeated both candidate Eric Chu of the Kuomintang (KMT), the party of current President Ma Ying-jeou, and third party candidate James Soong to claim victory. According to Taiwan’s Central Election Commission, with 98 percent of the results in, Tsai and running mate Chen Chien-jen had claimed 56.2 percent of the votes, with Chu at 30.9 percent and Soong at 12.8 percent.
Tsai will be Taiwan’s first female president and only the second DPP president, following Chen Shui-bian’s 2000-2008 tenure. Unlike Chen, who managed only a plurality to eke out a victory in 2000, Tsai was elected by a convincing margin that will give her a clear mandate going forward. Ma won election in 2008 with similar numbers, claiming 58.4 percent of the vote. In her victory speech, Tsai said the election results proved the strength of Taiwan’s democracy.
Chu has already conceded defeat and congratulated Tsai on her victory. He also announced his resignation as chair of the KMT, apologizing for having “failed” the voters and Taiwan. It’s the second time in just over two years the KMT has had to look for a new chair; Ma Ying-jeou resigned his post as party chair after a sweeping defeat in November 2014’s local elections.
In the legislative elections, results were slower to come in, but early results showed another victory for the DPP. As of 8 pm local time, the DPP had wrapped up 41 out of the 113 seats, with the KMT having only secured 14. At a DPP victory rally, Tsai declared her party had successfully won its first-ever legislative majority, which Chu conceded as well in his resignation speech.
The results of the at-large elections, meanwhile, were crystal clear. With 99 percent of results reported, the DPP had 44.1 percent of the votes, with the KMT at 26.9 percent. Soong’s People First Party was the top performing third party, with 6.5 percent of votes, closely followed by the New Power Party at 6.1 percent. Thirty-four seats in the Legislature Yuan will be divided up according to the at-large results.
Update: The DPP is now reported to have won 68 out of the 113 seats in the Legislative Yuan, with 35 for the KMT, 5 for the New Power Party, and 3 for the People First Party.
The results, while widely anticipated given Tsai’s consistent double-digit leads in the polls, will nonetheless be worrisome for Beijing. Mainland China has never really given up its image of the DPP as a pro-independence party, despite Tsai’s repeated promises that she will maintain the “status quo” in cross-strait relations. Chinese officials have warned that, unless Tsai accepts the “1992 consensus” holding that there is only on China, cross-strait relations could falter.