ELECTION 2024/DPP wins presidency but loses majority in Legislature
Taipei, Jan. 13 (CNA) Taiwanese voters on Saturday kept the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in power for another four years but elected a new legislature that cost the DPP its absolute majority in the 113-seat body.
Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the DPP's chairman and incumbent vice president, and his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) won the 2024 presidential election with 5,586,019 votes, or 40.05 percent of the total, according to final election results released by the Central Election Commission (CEC).
It was the first time any political party won three consecutive four-year terms in office since Taiwan first held direct elections in 1996.
The Lai-Hsiao ticket defeated Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and his running mate Jaw Shau-kong (趙少康), who garnered 4,671,021 votes, or 33.49 percent.
Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) of the smaller Taiwan People's Party (TPP), and his running mate Wu Hsin-ying (吳欣盈) garnered 3,690,466 votes, or 26.46 percent of the total, official CEC vote counts showed.
The results were broadly in line with polls released at the end of December, just before the blackout imposed on public polls 10 days before any election in Taiwan.
Lai had a much smaller margin of victory than did President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the DPP in 2016 and 2020 when she won by 25 percentage points and 18.5 points, respectively, though that was bound to happen with a three-party race.
Conditions were also quite different. In 2016, major dissatisfaction with the KMT administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) led to a major DPP win and in 2020, the KMT was hurt by China's crackdown on protests in Hong Kong.
In this election cycle, voter fatigue with the DPP and dismay with its lack of transparency led to a desire for change, but that opposition was split between the KMT and Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who tried but failed to unite their tickets.
Despite his victory, Lai could face a tougher challenge than his predecessor in gaining support for his policies and greater scrutiny in the Legislature, after the DPP failed to secure an absolute majority in the 113-seat body.
In Saturday's legislative elections, the DPP secured 51 seats, the KMT 52, and the TPP eight, CEC data showed.
Another two seats were won by independents aligned with the KMT, but the party's gain of 15 seats was still not enough to give it the absolute majority it craved.
The question now is whether the TPP will work with the KMT or DPP on electing a speaker and pushing legislative priorities or spend most of its time trying to draw attention to itself.
Outside of the big three, the New Power Party, which went into the election with three seats, won none in the first-past-the-post electoral districts, nor did it meet the 5 percent threshold to win at-large seats.
Third party rises
Although the TPP's Ko finished last in the presidential election, his ability to get more than a quarter of the vote, and his party's ability to pick up 22.07 percent of the political party vote has established him as a force to contend with.
The surgeon-turned politician pledged at a post-election press event a return to the presidential race in four years time.
Ko said that despite losing the election, the TPP has ushered in a new era of Taiwanese politics that includes three major parties, with the TPP set to become a "critical minority" in the Legislature.
Saturday's election reaffirmed the widely held belief that Taiwan needs a voice other than the pan-green and the pan-blue political camps, and that this voice will be critical in guiding the country, Ko told supporters gathered at his campaign headquarters in New Taipei.
Cross-strait relations to stay status quo
With Lai's presidential win, the 64-year-old politician, who has described himself in the past as a "pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence," is expected to maintain Tsai's approach to China given that foreign policy is in the hands of the president.
This means that Taiwan-China relations will likely remain standoffish, and relations between China and the United States will become even more important as the U.S. faces a hugely important election of its own in November 2024.
According to the CEC, 19.55 million people from Taiwan's population of 23.4 million were eligible to vote this year, including around 1.028 million first-time voters. There were a total of 17,795 polling stations around Taiwan, it said, and voter turnout was 71.86 percent.
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