Elections in Taiwan: Lai Ching-te is elected president

The official candidate Lai Ching-teof the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential election in Taiwan this Saturday, and this was recognized by the opposition.

The outcome of the presidential and parliamentary election will chart the course of relations with China for the next four years. Peace and stability are at stake of the 180-kilometer-wide strait that separates mainland China from the autonomous island that Beijing considers part of its territory.

Apart from tensions with China, the election revolved around internal affairs such as the slowdown of the economy, housing affordability, the growing gap between rich and poor and unemployment.

China called the vote a choice between war and peace. Beijing is head-on against Lai, who along with outgoing president Tsai Ing-wen, rejects China’s sovereignty claims over the islanda former Japanese colony that broke away from the mainland government during a civil war in 1949. However, they have offered to engage in dialogue with Beijing, which has refused, calling them separatists.

It is believed that Beijing preferred the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT), more similar to China. Its candidate, Hou Yu-ih, also promised to resume talks with the country, while strengthening national defense.

The third candidate in contention, Ko Wen-je, of the People’s Party of Taiwan (PPT), proved to be especially popular among young people who were looking for an alternative to the two major parties that have succeeded each other in government since the 1990s. Ko also He expressed his intention to dialogue with Beijing and affirms that Taiwan must remain democratic and free.

The United States, which is legally obliged to supply Taiwan with the weapons it needs to defend itself, He said he will support the government elected at the polls. The White House’s plans to send an unofficial delegation of former senior officials shortly after the election supports that position.

It is believed that the Taiwan elections will have “a real and lasting influence on the geopolitical landscape”said Gabrielle Reid, associate director at S-RM, a global intelligence consultancy.

“The outcome of the vote will ultimately determine the nature of ties with China relative to the West and will greatly influence the situation in the South China Sea,” he added.