By Emma Emeozor

Taiwan’s ruling party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has got the nod of the citizens to govern the Island for a third consecutive term described by pundits as historic.

In the poll results officially announced by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), DPP presidential candidate, Lai Ching-te won 5,586,019 (40.05 per cent), 10 per cent less than the 50 per cent outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen won in her second term four years ago. Lai who is the current vice president will be inaugurated in May 2024.

The candidate of the main opposition party, Kuomintang (KMT), Hou Yu-ih, garnered 4,671,021 (33.49 per cent) of the votes, while new entrant and smaller party in the Island’s political contest, People’s Party (TPP) candidate, Ko Wen-je won 3,690,466 (26.465 per cent).

Reports quoted Lai as saying: “We’ve written a new page for Taiwan’s history of democracy,” after both his opponents conceded defeat. He said he would maintain the status quo in relations across the Taiwan Strait, but that he was “determined to safeguard Taiwan from threats and intimidation from China.” He also stressed the need for cooperation and dialogue with Beijing on an equal basis to “replace confrontation,” though he didn’t give specifics.

The out come of the keenly contested election was a re-affirmation of the resolve of the citizens to reject the ‘One China’ policy being canvassed by China and actualise Taiwan’s independence.  Watchers of China-Taiwan affairs say the victory of the DPP candidate was a big blow to Beijing.

It was DPP government that dumped the 1992 consensus that birthed the ‘One China’ policy. At the time, KMT was Taiwan’s ruling party. DPP has since insisted Taiwan is not a territory of China; instead it is an independent nation.

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According to observers, China wanted KMT to win the election. KMT affirmed its readiness to have closer ties with China if its candidate wins the presidential election. During the campaign, the party told voters that a vote for DPP was a vote for war, an apparent reference to threats from China. Beijing has said if Taiwan fails to renounce its independence bid, it will invade the Island in 2027.

Reacting to the victory of Lai, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quoted as saying:  “Whatever changes take place in Taiwan, the basic fact that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China will not change.”

His words: “The one-China principle is the solid anchor for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. We believe the international community will continue to adhere to the one-China principle and understand and support the Chinese people’s just cause of opposing ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities and striving to achieve national reunification.”

United State Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, was among those who congratulated Lai on his victory. In his congratulatory message, he said: “Taiwan people for once again demonstrating the strength of their robust democratic system and electoral process.

“The United States is committed to maintaining cross-Strait peace and stability, and the peaceful resolution of differences, free from coercion and pressure. The partnership between the American people and the people of Taiwan, rooted in democratic values, continues to broaden and deepen across economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties.”

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, and former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, have also congratulated Lai.

Johnson announced that the chairs of relevant House committees would lead a delegation to Taipei after Lai is inaugurated in May.  Other world leaders have been sending congratulatory messages since the results were announced.