Taiwan’s incumbent leader Tsai Ing-wen has won Saturday’s presidential election, defeating her Beijing-friendly rival Han Kuo-yu by a wide margin.
“Taiwan is showing the world how much we cherish our free and democratic way of life,” Tsai told supporters at 9pm as she confirmed her victory.
A jubilant crowd of supporters outside the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters in Taipei burst into cheers as Tsai appeared on stage to address reporters.
Tsai has polled comfortably ahead of her main contender Han, of the Kuomintang Party, since voting closed at 4pm on Saturday.
With 8.1 million votes as of 10:30pm, Tsai won the highest number of votes of any presidential candidate in Taiwan’s history of democratic elections. Han, on the other hand, received just over 5.5 million votes, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).
As to the 113-seat legislature, the Democratic Progressive Party has kept its majority with 61 seats, but with a slightly reduced margin, down from 68 in 2016. The Kuomintang has gained three seats from 35 to 38.
File photo: Jiang via Wikicommons. pic.twitter.com/NoS0HkjaEb
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) January 11, 2020
Vote counting by the CEC is expected to last until 10pm. The turnout will be published after the counting process is completed, according to the election agency.
Thank you, Taiwan. pic.twitter.com/SZVSOtJtT4
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) January 11, 2020
‘Banner of democracy’
In her initial remarks, Tsai thanked her supporters and urged them to put aside their political differences in order to embrace opponents “under the banner of democracy.”
“I want to once again call upon Beijing authorities to remind them that peace, clarity, democracy and dialogue are key to positive cross-strait interactions and long-term development,” she added. “I also hope that Beijing authorities understand that democratic Taiwan and our democratically-elected government will not concede to threats and intimidation.”
At around 8:45pm, Han declared defeat in Kaoshiung – where he is mayor: “I have already made a phone call to President Tsai Ing-wen, to congratulate her [on the victory],” Han told supporters.
He added that he had not put enough effort into his election campaign and failed to meet the expectations of his supporters.
Han said he would return to the municipal office in Kaoshiung next Monday to continue his responsibilities as the mayor. However, he is also facing a recall petition filed by civil groups and the pro-independence Taiwan Statebuilding Party last December which calls for his resignation.
More than 14 million voters turned out to the polling stations on Saturday, at a turnout rate of 74.9 per cent, according to the CEC.
In a statement on Saturday, the US praised Tsai for her “commitment to maintaining cross-Strait stability in the face of unrelenting pressure.”
“Under her leadership, we hope Taiwan will continue to serve as a shining example for countries that strive for democracy, prosperity, and a better path for their people,” it said.
As for the legislative elections, the DPP has successfully secured a majority, with 61 seats elected, as opposed to the main opposition KMT, which obtained 38 seats.
More to follow. Additional reporting: Jennifer Creery and Elson Tong.
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