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Who will govern Taiwan in the future?

The counting of votes for the presidential and parliamentary elections has begun in Taiwan. According to initial surveys by local media, the candidate from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party is ahead.

The counting of votes in the presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan has begun after the polls closed. The polling stations on the Southeast Asian island closed on Saturday afternoon (local time), and the ballot papers will now be counted by hand. The first forecasts are expected early in the evening and the result later in the evening.

The outcome of the vote is likely to be crucial for the further development of the complicated relationship with China, which sees the democratically governed and industrially highly developed Taiwan as its own province.

The current president is no longer running

According to initial surveys by local television stations, the candidate from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has taken the lead. The previous vice president, William Lai, was ahead of the candidate from the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), Hou Yu-ih, and the candidate from the populist Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), Ko Wen-je. The TV channels saw the 64-year-old Lai at around 38 to 39 percent. His opponent Hou was behind with about 33 percent.

At the same time, the 19.5 million voters who were called decided on the new parliament, the Legislative Yuan, in which the DPP had previously had an absolute majority. An official election result is expected late Saturday evening local time. A simple majority is sufficient for both the direct election of representatives and the president. The new president takes office on May 20th.

If the Progressive Party wins, it would be its third consecutive presidential election victory. The current President Tsai Ing-wen is not allowed to run again after two terms in office. If the DPP becomes president again, China’s communist leadership is likely to continue the pressure on Taiwan.

Tension between China and Taiwan

Beijing counts the island republic as part of China, although Taiwan has had an independent and democratically elected government for decades. Beijing, which views the pro-Taiwan independence DPP as separatist, had frozen contact with Taipei since President Tsai took office in 2016.

Tensions could therefore continue or even increase in the strait between China and Taiwan, which is important for global shipping and where the Chinese military sends fighter jets towards the island republic almost every day as a show of force. China wants the island to be united with the mainland, if necessary with military force.

Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Tokyo, currently Taipei, tagesschau, January 13, 2024 11:25 a.m

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