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Taiwan's 2024 Presidential Election

Updated: Mar 15

On January 13, 2024, Taiwan elected Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party as President (DPP). Lai - who served as vice-president prior to his win - secured over 40 percent of the vote, defeating Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT) and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party. The election marked the DPP’s third consecutive win - an unparalleled feat in Taiwan’s democratic history. More interestingly, however, the election demonstrates what Taiwan’s people envision as their country’s future: the present. 


One of the staples of Lai’s election campaign was his assertion that he would continue outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen’s policies to protect Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty. The election shows that although voters would like their political leader to strengthen the economy and generally develop Taiwanese society, above all, they would like their president to serve as a bulwark against the current greatest threat to their independent nationhood - China. China has long claimed that Taiwan is part of China and has harbored hopes that it will accede to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule. The DPP’s opposition in the election was far more open to this notion than was the incumbent party - in fact, the KMT, formerly known as China’s Nationalist Party, fled to Taiwan after being defeated in the 1949-1950 Chinese Civil War. 


Moreover, a concerning fact for Taiwan’s independence is that this year’s election was the closest in decades. This likely stems from the people’s frustration with Taiwan’s stagnant economic growth and wages, as well as its rising tensions with China. For instance, former President Tsai sought to ward off China mainly by strengthening US-Taiwan relations, which was evident through former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 2022 visit to Taiwan and President Tsai’s 2023 US visit - both of which significantly agitated Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Chinese leader has made his anger evident by performing military drills near Taiwan and sending rockets over the country, among other things. Still, Taiwan’s democracy seems to be safe for now, though it is unclear how Beijing will react to the elections in the coming months.


Sources


Ioanes, Ellen. "In Taiwan’s high-stakes elections, China is the loser." Vox, Jan 14, 2024. https://www.vox.com/world-politics/2024/1/13/24037173/taiwan-china-lai-ching-te-democracy-taipei-united-states-vote-elections.


"National Party: Chinese Political Party." Brittanica, History & Society. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nationalist-Party-Chinese-political-party


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