All eyes on Taiwan election

All eyes are on Taiwan election today.

Taiwan is one of the few Confucianist countries that can claim to have a 2 party system.

There is a good write up on this election from Associated Press which i want to share with readers that are watching this election:

Taiwanese vote in closely fought presidential poll

By PETER ENAV, Associated Press – 2 hours ago  TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese voted Saturday in a closely fought presidential election that pits incumbent Ma Ying-jeou’s vision of better relations with China against his main challenger’s attempts to galvanize resentment over growing income inequality.

Ma and Tsai Ing-wen of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party have been crisscrossing the island for weeks in a hard-hitting campaign, offering their competing visions for Taiwan’s future.

Eighteen million Taiwanese are eligible to vote. Opinion surveys published a week ago — the last permitted under Taiwanese law — showed Ma clinging to a slim 3-4 percentage point lead that was within the statistical margin of error, despite Tsai never having won an election for public office in Taiwan.

A third candidate, James Soong, a former heavyweight in Ma’s Nationalist Party, has little chance of winning, though political analysts say he could draw voters away from the president.

Legislative elections being held at the same time are likely to see Ma’s Nationalists retain a majority in the 113-seat house, although with a diminished margin.

Ma, a 61-year-old former justice minister and Taipei mayor, is staking his re-election on his success in tying Taiwan’s high-tech economy ever closer to China’s lucrative markets. During his 3 1/2 years in office, his China initiatives — including opening Taiwan to Chinese tourists and increasing the number of flights across the 100-mile- (160-kilometer-) wide Taiwan Strait — have helped reduce tensions between democratic Taiwan and authoritarian China to the lowest level since they split amid civil war in 1949.

Ma’s signature achievement has been the completion of a China trade deal in June 2010 which lowered tariffs on hundreds of goods. While most of Taiwan’s $124 billion worth of exports to China last year were electronic goods like television displays and cellphone chips, there was also a big upsurge in agricultural sales from southern Taiwan, long a stronghold of Tsai’s party.

Taipei bank manager Frank Chang said he voted for Ma because of his efforts to improve ties with Beijing.

“China is a major economic power with the world’s biggest demand for goods,” he said. “As a small island, Taiwan cannot isolate itself from the mainland and still maintain a viable economy.”

Tsai, 55, who has a doctorate from the London School of Economics, shows no signs of undoing the economic aspects of Ma’s China policies, though she charges that they have helped spawn economic inequality in Taiwan. She has also accused Ma of undermining Taiwan’s de facto independence in exchange for benefits from the mainland — a claim that resonates strongly with her party’s pro-independence base.

Taipei office worker Chen Yen-fen said she voted for Tsai because she appeared to be a capable leader.

“A change of government will help resolve the widening gap between the rich and poor and many other problems,” she said.

Taiwan, one of Asia’s economic successes for decades and now a center of high-tech development, has turned in a mixed performance under Ma. Unemployment has fallen in the past two years after reaching a high of 6.16 percent in 2009, and preliminary growth figures for 2011 were a respectable 4.5 percent. But housing prices in urban areas have skyrocketed and the income gap has widened, as large companies that invested in the China trade have profited handsomely from new opportunities.

In the closing days of the campaign Tsai moved relentlessly toward the center, promising to open a channel to China to offer assurances that she has no intention of embracing the pro-independence policies of Ma’s predecessor, the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian. Chen’s policies infuriated Beijing, and caused great consternation in the U.S., Taiwan’s most important security partner.

Through proxies, Ma has been trying to undermine support for Soong out of fear that if enough Nationalist backers choose the third-party candidate, the president could lose the election. Some analysts have suggested that if Soong garners 7 percent of the vote or more, Ma will be defeated.

Ma has been buoyed by the arrival of an estimated 300,000 China-based Taiwanese businesspeople, most of whom are expected to vote for the president. Many Taiwanese businesses on the mainland are big Ma backers and have encouraged their workers to support him.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kenny
    Jan 14, 2012 @ 20:53:11

    At least in Taiwan there is true democracy and the people can choose their own govt. In Malaysia do we even have that choice under BN? After 55 years of entrenched rule BN has done all it can to remove the choice from the people. Even though we hold elections every 5 years or so the playing field is so tilted that it is very hard for BN to lose power.

    Some of the measures used by BN are unethical but legal, some are cynical and some are downright illegal. Gerrymandering of constituencies play a big role and denial of media access compounded by short campaign periods hamper the opposition from getting their message across. Playing with postal votes and denying overseas Malaysians the right to vote (expect for pro-BN groups like govt staff and govt scholars) helps BN maintain its grip on power.

    As if these are not enough BN also cheats by allowing double voting of army and police personnel (postal vote and civilian ID), phantom voters and giving foreigners myKads to vote for BN. Bringing in postal votes after the first count shows that BN has lost by a small margin is a time honoured tactic.

    Imagine playing football on a playing field which slopes steeply to the opposition’s goal posts. This is how PR must fight the next election.

    But despite this the next G.E. represents the best ever chance of getting rid of BN. As Zaid Ibrahim said on malaysiakini today the chance may never come again.


  2. klm
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 13:02:11

    With US new focus on the Pacific, the political temperature of Asia and the Pacific will be brought to a boil. This 2012 election marks a major cross road for Taiwan.
    Taiwan must drop its deep seated antagonism of China. It must settle the China-Taiwan issue once and for all. It must let go of the past. . Taiwan must come to terms with its past.

    With the new American focus, the present danger is growing. Taiwan will be caught in the middle.


  3. Li Li Fa
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 13:49:38

    A two party system has been on going in Taiwan for quite a while.
    Peter Enav of AP did seize up the election situation in Taiwan, but China, the authoritarian big brother has always regarded Taiwan as one of its many provinces.

    While the people of Taiwan, I believe are fearlessly guarding their own independence, has to pay heed to the current wind of change blowing from the East and West.
    No matter how difficult the Taiwanese has to decide on their own democratic future and choose a leader who can truly represent them.

    Perhaps, Peter Enav can do an analysis on the current Malaysian scenario whose 13GE is fast approaching.


  4. CYC
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 14:33:47

    Asia is a sorry state that never been able to liberalise themselves from the western “influence” or “enslavement” in terms of ideology as well as “real interference”. Unless and until such “colonization” is freed, we can never regard 21st century as Asia century. A lot of “recivilisation” soft culture is needed urgently.


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