As expected, the long awaited election for a new president and legislature has seen a resounding defeat for the pro-Chinese-reunification party. After many years of a lame-duck presidency, and a parliament marked by corruption scandals and in-fighting among the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party, the people of Taiwan have decided its better to be governed by native Taiwanese rather than a party devoted by their aspirations to return to the bosom of ‘the mainland’.
While most of the return to the bosom of the mainland voters had passed away by 2008, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) diehards were joined by voters disaffected by the corruption scandals surrounding the former DPP president Chen Shui-bian, and business people with vested interests in forging closer ties with the Peoples Republic of China, to sweep the KMT into power in that year’s election. Ma Yingjeou won the presidential vote with 58% of the ballot.
In 2012, the KMT, and President Ma Yingjeou were scraped back into power by an electorate surviving in an economic environment that was going neither forward, nor backward, but was increasingly dependent on a stable relationship with China. Ma’s vote was 51%.
The following four years saw President Ma putting his cards on the table. We saw an economic integration pact with China pushed through the legislature, resulting in mass protests, and the occupation of the legislative yuan by student protestors ( the Sunflower movement). In the final months of his term, Ma Yingjeou met Xi Jingping in a historical event marking the first time the leaders of the Republic of China, and the People’s Republic of China had ever been seen in the same room, let alone shaken hands.
At the time of writing, KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu is conceding defeat. His entourage, all dressed in identical light-blue track-suit tops are surrounding him, looking solemn, while dramatic music plays in the background. He talks about Taiwan with tears in his eyes, but mentions the name of the the party more. GuoMingDang 國民黨。
Photo credit: Taipei Times.