Post-election analysis: Pro-independence victory due to stronger identity as ‘Taiwanese’

(From Nikkei Asian Review)

TAIPEI–Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party, currently the largest opposition bloc in Taiwan, scored a landslide victory in the presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday. This is the first time in eight years that a DPP leader will take office as president.

A parliamentary election candidate from the New Power Party campaigns in the rain

A parliamentary election candidate from the New Power Party campaigns in the rain

The pro-independence victory was largely supported by widespread caution about mainland China, mainly among young Taiwanese. But they have no intention to start a conflict with the mainland. Tsai will face the task of continuing dialogue with Beijing and revitalizing the island’s economy.

“I really looked forward the election,” said a 20-year-old student at National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu City, southwest of Taipei. The young voter, who voted for Tsai, is one of the student protesters who occupied the Legislative Yuan in central Taipei in March 2014.

The Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, signed in June 2013 between Taiwan and mainland China, triggered strong opposition from Taiwanese students against the government. What is now known as the Sunflower Movement escalated to the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by the student protesters for three weeks. The event raised concerns against China among Taiwan’s general public.

“Taiwan is an independent state,” the student who voted for Tsai stressed. “If the Nationalist Party continues to deepen ties with mainland China, our economy will be incorporated into the mainland.” Read more

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