DPP triumph in 2020 elections
Tsai Iin-wen wins second term
By ECCT Staff Writers
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen has secured a second term after sweeping to victory in an election dominated by the island's relationship with China.
Tsai secured just over 57% of the ballot, which was a record 8.2m votes, well ahead of her rival Han Kuo-yu from the opposition Kuomintang party (KMT).
In her victory speech on 11 January, Tsai told China to abandon its threat to take back the island by force. Ms Tsai told a media conference: “Taiwan is showing the world how much we cherish our free democratic way of life and how much we cherish our nation”.
China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. It says Taiwan must eventually be reunited with China, by force if necessary but Ms Tsai said China should now drop that threat.
“I also hope that the Beijing authorities understand that democratic Taiwan, and our democratically elected government, will not concede to threats and intimidation”, she added.
As many as 8 million votes is an extraordinary tally for a Taiwanese President seeking a second term. The surprise record-breaking win has delivered a landslide mandate to Tsai. It was the emergence of Taiwan's relationship with China as the central issue in this campaign that allowed her to revive her flagging fortunes.
An unimpressive economic performance over the last couple of year highlights just how important the tumultuous politics with China has been in helping her win. Minimum wage, investments and stocks have risen. But exports have fallen and average GDP growth in her first term—around 2.7%— is lower than that under her predecessor's first term, even though he had faced a global slowdown.
Average real monthly salary has increased slightly, but it's the same as 16 years ago due to inflation - and it's still the lowest among the four little Asian dragon economies.
Tourism, while up overall, is growing at a much slower pace compared to increases of one million visitors a year under Tsai's predecessor. Bad relations with China cost Taiwan 1.5 million Chinese tourists and US$1.5 billion in tourism earnings in 2018, compared to 2015.
Meanwhile, 40% of Taiwan's exports and most of its outward investments as well as expatriate workers still go to China, despite Tsai's vows to reduce reliance on the mainland.
Ahead of the vote, Tsai was leading in the polls as voters watched the way in which Beijing handled pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Her stance was popular with those who fear Taiwan being overtaken by mainland China. In the final count she secured 1.3 million more votes than in her 2016 victory.
Voters were also choosing the next members of the Taiwanese legislature, where Ms Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has had a majority.
Out of 113 seats in the Legislative Yuan, the DPP won 61, while the KMT managed 38. The remaining seats were split between other smaller political parties.