Taiwanese voters reject Chinese pressure, granting the ruling Democratic Progressive Party a historic third term. Despite domestic challenges, President-elect Lai Ching-te vows to safeguard Taiwan’s interests and promote dialogue.
New Delhi, January 14, 2024 – In a resounding response to Chinese pressure, Taiwanese voters have elected Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as their president for a third consecutive term. Defying Beijing’s call to reject Lai, Taiwan’s electorate reaffirmed their support for a party that champions the island’s separate identity and opposes China’s territorial claims.
The victory marks an unprecedented third successive term for the DPP under Taiwan’s current electoral system. However, the party lost its parliamentary majority, signaling public frustration with domestic issues such as soaring housing costs and stagnant wages during its eight years in power.
Lai secured only 40% of the vote in Taiwan’s first-past-the-post system, a contrast to the landslide victory of the current President Tsai Ing-wen four years ago. Despite the challenges, Lai celebrated the win, stating, “We’ve written a new page for Taiwan’s history of democracy.”
Maintaining the status quo in relations across the Taiwan Strait, Lai expressed determination to safeguard Taiwan from Chinese threats while emphasizing the need for equal cooperation and dialogue with Beijing.
China, which had denounced Lai as a separatist, struck a milder tone in its response, stating that the DPP “cannot represent the mainstream public opinion” on Taiwan. While reiterating its commitment to reunification, China expressed willingness to work with political parties from Taiwan for peaceful development and national reunification.
The election unfolded amid heightened geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington. Lai acknowledged the DPP’s need for improvement, offering an olive branch to opponents by including talent from their parties. Despite losing parliamentary majority, Lai pledged to cooperate with rivals in addressing Taiwan’s challenges.
The Kuomintang (KMT) won 52 seats to the DPP’s 51, while the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) secured eight. Former Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je of the TPP, a new force in Taiwan’s political landscape, expressed openness to collaboration, stating they would support whoever speaks reasonably.
With a turnout of around 72% among the nearly 19 million eligible voters, the election marked a pivotal moment for Taiwan as it navigates its future in the face of complex regional dynamics and domestic concerns.