Who was elected as Taiwan's first woman president?
Taiwan’s first female president has vowed to build a new era of politics after sealing a historic landslide election victory that is expected to strain the state’s relationship with China.
With more than half of the votes counted, the Democratic Progressive party (DPP) candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, had built an unassailable lead over her closest rival, the Nationalist (KMT) candidate, Eric Chu.
“Thank you for helping the DPP stand up again and for trusting us to govern this country,” Tsai, 59, said in her victory address on Saturday night. “We will put political polarisation behind us and look forward to the arrival of a new era of politics in Taiwan.”
Earlier Chu, 54, had conceded defeat telling his supporters: “We have failed the expectations of all voters.” More than 20,000 DPP supporters gathered outside the party’s headquarters in Taipei to celebrate Tsai’s victory, shouting: “We are making history.”
“For me this is not just about an election victory,” Tsai said in her first address after the results became clear. “The results today tell me that the people want to see a government more willing to listen to the people, a government that is more transparent and accountable, and a government that is more capable of leading us past our current challenges and taking care of those in need. They tell me that the people expect a government that can lead this country into the next generation and a government that is steadfast in protecting this country’s sovereignty.”
Tsai narrowly lost out on the presidency four years ago. The London School of Economics postgraduate had considered a return to academia before deciding to launch a second attempt at Taiwan’s highest office
Analysts have said growing public dissatisfaction with the outgoing KMT president, Ma Ying-jeou, and an economy that weakened dramatically last year, helped propel Tsai to victory. Her success ends eight years of KMT rule, during which there has been an unprecedented thaw in relations between the self-ruled island and China.
Ma, who gained the presidency in 2008, had faced increasing criticism for what critics described as his opaque style of governance and the widespread perception that his pro-China policies had failed to deliver significant economic gains.
His detente with Beijing culminated in a historic cross-strait summit with Xi Jinping last November but critics said the blossoming trade and tourism ties had done little to improve ordinary people’s lives.
“Over the past four years, I’ve travelled around Taiwan, I’ve seen the suffering of the people and I’ve heard the public’s call for change,” Tsai told her final campaign rally on Friday. “Democratic politics is responsible politics, if [a government] cannot do it well, then we change it.”