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Business News/ News / World/  Taiwan Elections 2024: ‘Future of country with one vote’, President Tsai Ing-wen urges voters to turn out

Taiwan Elections 2024: ‘Future of country with one vote’, President Tsai Ing-wen urges voters to turn out

Taiwan Presidential Elections 2024: Polling begins in Taiwan to elect the next President and running mate, with over 19 million people registered to vote across 18,000 polling stations.

Lai Ching-te, Taiwan's vice president and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential candidate casts his vote at a polling station during the presidential and parliamentary elections in Tainan, Taiwan January 13, 2024. (Reuters)Premium
Lai Ching-te, Taiwan's vice president and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential candidate casts his vote at a polling station during the presidential and parliamentary elections in Tainan, Taiwan January 13, 2024. (Reuters)

Taiwan Elections 2024:  Polling to elect the next President and the running mate began on Saturday in Taiwan, with over nineteen million people, of which one million are first-time voters, registered to cast their ballots across almost 18,000 polling stations in the island country.

The voters will receive three ballots -- a presidential ballot, a regional or aboriginal legislator ballot, and a ballot for a political party that will determine legislator-at-large seats.

Taiwanese voters will be choosing a successor to Tsai Ing-wen, the nation's first female president, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits after winning in 2016 and 2020. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), led by Tsai, is viewed unfavorably by China, which considers Taiwan a sovereign nation.

“Citizens in a democratic country can decide the future of the country with one vote," Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen urged people to cast their ballots as she cast her own on Saturday morning in New Taipei City. 

Who are the three candidates? 

1) Lai Ching-Te: Lai Ching-te is currently Taiwan’s vice president from the Democratic Progressive Party, which rejects China’s sovereignty claims over the island. Years ago, the 64-year-old described himself as a “pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence," drawing criticism from Beijing. If elected president, Lai has pledged to strengthen national defense and the economy and to continue in the policy direction set by Tsai.

2) Hou Yu-Ih: Hou Yu-ih is the candidate from Taiwan’s main opposition party Kuomintang, or KMT, whose government retreated to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war against the Chinese Communist Party. He served as the head of the island’s police force before transitioning to politics in 2010. The 66-year-old is currently the mayor of New Taipei, a position from which he took leave to run for president. He has pledged to strengthen national defense and restart dialogue with Beijing. 

3) Ko Wen-Je: The third presidential candidate, Ko Wen-je, represents the smaller Taiwan People’s Party, which he founded in 2019. An outspoken surgeon-turned-politician, Ko advocates for a middle road in relations with Beijing. He describes himself as the only candidate who would be acceptable to both the US and China. The 64-year-old was mayor of Taipei between 2014 and 2022 and has cooperated in the past with both the DPP and KMT.

Who will be the next president? 

Vice President Lai Ching-te, representing the governing Democratic Progressive Party, known as the DPP, seeks to succeed the outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen and give the independence-leaning party an unprecedented third term. Lai will be voting in his hometown of Tainan.

Why Taiwan elections are significant for the world? 

Taiwan has over 23 million people, but the whole world is affected by the election results. China claims 36,193 sq km of Taiwan, which is home to 90% of the world's supply of cutting-edge semiconductors used in artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing applications. This fact highlights Taiwan's critical economic importance to the global economy.

TrendForce estimates that as of 2023, Taiwan accounted for roughly 46% of the world's semiconductor foundry capacity. In the modern era, semiconductor chips have become key components of the world economy. They are called the "new oil" of the technological age since they need to access the processing power found in every piece of contemporary equipment. The Taiwanese capital's reorganized power structures will have 'deep significance' for the nation's semiconductor industry, among other things.

The Taiwanese Strait has seen an increase in Chinese military aggression as a geoeconomic hotspot in recent years. By frequently dispatching ships and warplanes to the skies and seas surrounding Taiwan, China's top leader Xi Jinping has consolidated Beijing's claim over the people of Taiwan.

What's at stake? 

At stake is the peace and stability of the 110-mile-wide (177-kilometer-wide) strip of water between the Chinese mainland and the self-governed island claimed by China as its own, AP reported. 

Apart from China tensions, the Taiwan election largely hinges on domestic issues, particularly an economy that was estimated to have grown just 1.4% last year. That partly reflects inevitable cycles in demand for computer chips and other exports from the high-tech, heavily trade-dependent manufacturing base, and a slowing of the Chinese economy.

But longer-term challenges such as housing affordability, a yawning gap between rich and poor, and unemployment are especially prominent.

What does China say?

China has suggested that Taiwan could be choosing between peace and war this time, and has openly opposed the DPP for what it sees as its separatist leanings. Beijing claims sovereignty over the island and warns it would reclaim it by force if Taiwan formally claimed its independence. 

China has sent fighter planes and warships near the island to put teeth behind its warnings. Any armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait would disrupt the global economy and could draw in the United States.

China and Taiwan are linked by trade and investment, with an estimated 1 million Taiwanese spending at least part of the year on the mainland for work, study or recreation.


(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 13 Jan 2024, 07:09 AM IST
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