Ma Ying-jeou wins 2008 Taiwan presidential election

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ma Ying-jeou, former Mayor of Taipei, has been elected as the new President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the fourth contested election of the independent state with a landslide victory of 58.45% of the popular vote (7,658,724 votes). He defeated his opponent, Frank Hsieh, who received 41.55% of the popular vote (5,445,239 votes). The results of the election has been confirmed by the Central Election Commission of the ROC.

Ma represented the Pan-Blue Coalition, which consists of the Kuomintang, the People First Party, and the New Party and generally supports maintaining the current status quo. The coalition is in direct opposition to the Pan-Green Coalition, which consists of the Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, and the Taiwan Independence Party and generally supports Taiwanese independence. Hsieh, former Premier of the ROC, was the candidate for the Pan-Green Coalition.

Born in Hong Kong, Ma studied at New York University and Harvard Law School and once held an American permanent resident "green card". Hsieh implied during the election that Ma might flee the country during a time of crisis. Hsieh also argued that the photogenic Ma was more style than substance. Despite these accusations, Ma won handily on a platform advocating closer ties with the Chinese mainland.

Ma Ying-jeou will be inaugurated as the new President in May 2008, with Vincent Shew being the new Vice President, replacing the current president Chen Shui-bian and ending the DPP's 8-year rule of Taiwan. Ma has promised to increase economic ties with Mainland China by increasing tourism, air flights and relaxing rules that govern Taiwanese investments in the mainland. Ma, however, does not argue for political union. He called Chinese Premier Weng Jiabao's recent call for "one China" talks "rude, unreasonable, arrogant, absurd, and self-righteous."

George W. Bush, President of the United States, has issued a statement congratulating Ma on his success and reasserting that the U.S. will continue to maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan.

Two referendums regarding Taiwan's involvement in the United Nations and other international organizations were also held along with the presidential election. The ROC Central Election Commission also confirmed that both referendums have failed due to low turnout.