Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen Wins Re-Election
January 13, 2020 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen won a landslide victory against her right-wing, populist, Beijing-backed opponent, with voter turnout reaching 74.9%. Candidates in cosplay, an explanation of each candidate's nicknames, and more inside.

Tsai’s election win not only gives the DPP a mandate to continue advancing its current political platform, but serves as a rebuke to China. One notes that voter turnout was high, with 75% of eligible voters voting. This is close to 10% higher than the voter turnout in 2016.

Taiwan campaign aesthetics: Candidates in costume, YouTubers and merchandise:
One generally saw convergences between both the DPP and KMT in terms of the American college-style campaign jackets that both parties sold, use of cartoon depictions of their respective candidates, and attempts to associate candidates with their pets. In the case of Tsai, this was associating Tsai with her pet cats and dog, while in the case of Han Kuo-yu, this was through associating Han with his pet Shiba Inu.

Taiwan 2020: How These Politicians Got Their Funny Nicknames:
Tsai firmly rejected Xi’s speech and said, “China must face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and not deny the democratic system that the people of Taiwan have established together.”

A week later, Taiwanese rapper Dwagie released a freestyle rap named “Hot Taiwanese Girl” (辣台妹), lauding Tsai for her bravery and "spicy" attitude.

Expats travel back to vote in Taiwan's heated presidential election:
Some fly for business, some for pleasure. But at least one Taiwanese American, Yintzu Huang, took a long-haul flight to her native land for a different reason — to cast a ballot in the island's election on Saturday.

After being reported to the police by elderly pan-blue naysayers, Su I-Ching (蘇怡兢), a Kaohsiung native NCCU graduate student and the DPY team leader at the Taipei Zoo, proudly proclaims that all her efforts are worth it. “If grandpa waged a revolution to give dad voting rights, but dad votes unwisely, then the daughter is left with no option but to wage revolution herself."

Hong Kong protesters feel new burst of hope as Tsai Ing-win sweeps to resounding victory:
With Hong Kong’s anti-government movement rolling on for more than seven months, an estimated 200 protesters had fled to the island on extended tourist visas. The Chi-Nan Presbyterian Church in Taipei, which has offered humanitarian help to about 200, believed at least 30 were now staying on the island.
posted by storytam (13 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
You know what's even more delicious? She was attacked by all the other parties for being a childless, single cat lady and in addition to giving a very worthy retort, she fucking leaned into it for her campaign advertising.

"In the past three years since I came to office, we’ve increased basic salaries, reduced taxes for families, widened subsidies for child care, build social housing, and promoted elderly care policies. All of these policies are for the next generation, and to reduce the burden on young parents.

Perhaps we haven’t done enough or performed sufficiently, and I’m willing to accept criticisms and continue working hard. But launching personal attacks on the basis of gender or fertility status is an act that negates women and undermines the efforts of the government."

posted by toastyk at 10:58 AM on January 13 [34 favorites]

Fun fact: from what I can gather, all three of the candidates in that amazing campaign poster toastyk linked above won their races.
posted by chrominance at 11:17 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Thanks for this! Some great links that I hadn't seen. My favorite story out of this election is the win by Chen Po-wei of the Taiwan Statebuilding Party, who beat all expectations to take the seat in Taichung City's second district over the son of a local gangster who has held sway there for decades. Also, if you haven't seen the incredibly powerful Tsai campaign ad that juxtaposed life in TW with the protesters' life in HK, you should definitely watch it (turn on cc for English translation). [On preview, oh yea the cat ears were great!! She ran a kickass social media/youth vote campaign.]

It was an expected election victory for President Tsai. She has been on track for this re-election at least since she won the primary against her running mate William Lai in June of last year. Han Kuo-yu was looking really strong at the beginning of 2019, but his campaign basically imploded - mostly due to a bunch of gaffes, his non-handing of his brand new mayoral duties in Kaohsiung, and a galvanization of anti-PRC sentiments in Taiwan due to the events in HK.

I think the more interesting part of the DPP victory was their holding on to an absolute majority (54%) in the Legislative Yuan. As late as last week, the outcome of the LY elections was pretty much up in the air. While some of the up and coming DPP politicians (Bi-khim Hsiao and Enoch Wu among them) lost their LY bids and the KMT actually gained three seats, it's going to be interesting to see what Tsai chooses to do with the legislative majority. She definitely has an implied mandate due to her overwhelming win. It's also going to be interesting to see what the Taiwan People's Party (TPP, headed by independent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je) does. They are seen as likely to side with the KMT on issues, but if they will is still up for debate.

I personally would like to see some movement on the R-word import issues (oh ractopamine, how I loathe thee) and a renewed focus on adjusting regulations and cutting red tape, hopefully moving towards negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. Now would be a good time for that push.
posted by gemmy at 11:18 AM on January 13 [8 favorites]

Chinese government reacting totally normally and in a mature, rational manner: “Those who split the country will be doomed to leave a stink for 10,000 years,” said Wang, one of whose previous roles was head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, using an expression that means to go down in history as a byword for infamy.
posted by toastyk at 11:44 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

I love this. I had seen the election result but hadn't been following the specifics. One of her cats is named Think Think!

Also: "After more than 60 countries sent messages of congratulations to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) after her landslide victory in the 2020 election, China cried foul, claiming that their actions violated the "one-China" principle.... In a Chinese language op-ed, Xinhua accused Tsai of buying votes and blamed the election results on "external dark forces."
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:56 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Taiwan really needs to enact new laws that prevents candidates from taking Chinese money, advocating "unification", etc. No point in allowing Chinese henchmen from hijacking their democracy.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:36 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Taiwan really needs to enact new laws that prevents candidates from taking Chinese money

Though it didn't affect this recent election, Taiwan did do this late last year. It's part of the Anti-Infiltration Act that includes articles that will hopefully reduce or stop the widespread social media influence and disinformation from China that was part of the recent election.

Other Stuff:

Bloomberg has a neat Election Results Map that maps things down to the township/county level.

Up to the day of the election, I've been reading the Frozen Garlic blog regularly, which has detailed posts about both big picture stuff like polling and on the ground observation of campaign rallies. It's also been pretty useful resource to just learn more about how the election system works in Taiwan. The author, Nathan Batto, recently had an opinion piece in the NYT about the election results: When Populism Can’t Beat Identity Politics
posted by FJT at 2:07 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]

I have a great many friends in Taiwan and have a lot of fondness for the country. They are all very happy about the results and I really appreciated this roundup of links.
posted by frumiousb at 4:07 PM on January 13

Taiwan’s indigenous people remind Xi Jinping that it has “never belonged to China”:

Tsai was the first Taiwanese leader to apologize to the country’s indigenous people, and has pledged to bring about transitional justice to the population, which includes promoting historically accurate accounts of violations committed against indigenous people, and reparations for their suffering. She has also sought to play up (paywall) Taiwan’s ethnic diversity, in contrast to Xi’s promotion of ethnic Han culture over China’s ethnic and religious groups. However, many indigenous people believe that the Tsai government has reneged on its promises, for example by continuing to allow large corporations to build on their land—just the latest in the centuries-long struggle for indigenous rights in Taiwan.
posted by toastyk at 4:33 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

That letter was also referenced in the first link in this post. Out of curiosity, I tried to find voting data for indigenous Taiwanese people, but all I found was this story saying they've been a reliable voting bloc for the KMT. The article also says that things may be changing, however, and the blog linked by FJT mentions that the DPP winning a mountain indigenous seat is a historical breakthrough (so possibly their first?).
posted by jomato at 6:55 PM on January 13

Here's an interesting writeup about voter turnout amont indigenous Taiwainese people, also from the Frozen Garlic blog linked above. Towards the end the author writes
We all know from years and years of experience that indigenous voters have tended to support the KMT over the DPP, so those extra 4000 votes are good news for the KMT. However, what none of us know is just how overwhelmingly indigenous voters support the KMT. ... No one has ever put calculated a rigorous estimate of how indigenous voters vote in presidential elections, much less mayoral elections, so we just don’t know the answer.
They also say that they're working on such an estimate, but the post is from September 2018 and there's nothing else under the "indigenous voters", so who knows if they completed their project.
posted by jomato at 7:10 PM on January 13

A primer on the various parties involved in the election from @AsiaElects.

And in Foreign Policy, by Lev Nachman: "Taiwan’s Voters Show How to Beat Populism"
posted by Apocryphon at 11:31 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

2020 is already shaping up to be an interesting year in the postcolonial project.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:50 AM on January 14

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