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Instituto Público

Um ponto de encontro de ideias.

Instituto Público

Um ponto de encontro de ideias.

Taiwan Elections 2016

We have the tendency to ignore sometimes events that happen far away from our reality.However the political events taking place in Asia Pacific region are important and have influence worldwide and in the international system. The Asia Pacific region has a growing importance in economic, energy resources and political terms, and also because is where we can find one of the biggest concentration of population in the world.

We should be aware how the Taiwan elections can  influence the world affairs, and how the little Formosa Island can be again caught in the middle of a struggle for power between the two major world powers: United States and China. Which influence could that situation have in the region and also in international affairs?

China is trying to isolate Taiwan since 1949 over a sovereignty issue. The most evident attempt of isolation was the opposition to the fact that Taiwan had a seat at the United Nations in 1971. Meanwhile, due to China’s pressures Taiwan has been losing some of its important international alliances. Therefore it is possible to say that China challenges the development of democracy in Taiwan, especially because Taiwan still depends on People’s Republic of China economically. However, can’t we also say that Taiwan will probably challenge the Chinese Communist Party regime?

Traditionally with two major parties in the political system, the Kuomintang( China’s friendly, conservative) and the Democratic Progressive Party( pro-Taiwanese independence, pro- Taiwanese identity) , on January 16th 2016 Taiwan elected for the first time a female President Tsai Ing-wen , defeating the Kuomintang in the presidential and in the legislative elections.  South Korea's President, Park, the daughter of Park Chung-hee (third President of South Korea and known to lead an authoritarian regime in the 1980’s) was the first female president in the region however Tsai as the second female president elected in the region come from a  total  different background(academic and non-elitist). [1] Taiwan is now crossing some social barriers, and giving some lessons to other democracies, particularly in Asia. 

The last time the DPP was in the power in the 2000’s with Chen Shui-bian, was certainly the most complicated era for China-Taiwan relations.

Therefore, the Taiwanese elections of 2016 are important for several reasons:  

  • The legislative and presidential elections took place at the same time, and Democratic Progressive Party won the majority in both;


  • First female President elected in Taiwan(not officially recognized as a state), second in East Asia;


  •  The elections reflect a willing of change, due to domestic issues mostly and not only due to the issues related with the cross-strait relations;


  • DPP majority could start a new chapter in the Cross-Strait relations, and therefore a new chapter in the Taiwan-China relations, different from the previous relationship, where President Ma Ying-jeou from Kuomintang was “China’s friendly”, Tsai is pro-independence and pro-Taiwanese identity

Will Tsai be able to manage a balance in cross – strait relations, and fight the Taiwan’s isolation over a growing powerful China in the Asia Pacific Region?

The truth is that Taiwan is still just recognized by  21 countries in the world, and even if the US is seen as a protector of Taiwan in military terms, the American recognition of Taiwan is still ambiguous , and the US fears a possible Chinese aggression to the island.

Tsai popularity as a leader will depend on how she manages the domestic issues, and how she will manage the cross-strait relations, more specifically the China-Taiwan- US triangle. However Taiwan is in a promising path concerning the consolidation of democracy, and hopefully a worst case scenario will be avoidable in China-Taiwan relations, only the following shifts will tell us what will happen. 


Taiwan Presidential Election 2016





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  14. 2015
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  27. 2014
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