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Taiwan: A Democratic Success

Robert Hathaway

The people of Taiwan have once again demonstrated the vitality and vibrancy of their democracy. Congratulations to President-elect Tsai Ing-wen and the other successful candidates in the election held earlier today.

Taiwan: A Democratic Success

The people of Taiwan have once again demonstrated the vitality and vibrancy of their democracy.  Congratulations to President-elect Tsai Ing-wen and the other successful candidates in the election held earlier today. 

Later this year, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen will be inaugurated as Taiwan’s first female president.  This in itself will ensure her place in history.  But beyond the ground-breaking fact of her gender, Dr. Tsai is well placed to lead Taiwan into a peaceful and prosperous future.  The government and the people of the United States look forward to working closely with her.  Perhaps Taiwanese participation in the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) membership expansion could be an early fruit of that collaboration.   

While his party suffered defeat in today’s polling, President Ma Ying-jeou also deserves commendation for his stewardship of Taiwan’s affairs over eight eventful years.  Long after the passions of today’s elections have dissipated, President Ma will no doubt be remembered as a leader who sought stability in the region and peaceful, mutually beneficial ties with Beijing.  

It is no secret that the People’s Republic of China views Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party with anxiety, even suspicion.  Beijing is to be commended, however, for largely eschewing the threats and saber rattling that characterized its behavior in the run-up to earlier Taiwanese elections.  It is to be hoped that the authorities in Beijing will demonstrate similar restraint in the days and weeks ahead, as they and the new political dispensation in Taiwan search for ways to advance their mutual interests.      

Today’s election further enhances Taiwan’s standing in the global family of democracies.  The peaceful transition of political power from one party to another is one of the hallmarks of a mature democracy.  But it is also one of the most difficult challenges facing a democratic people.  Sadly, recent history provides many examples of people and governments failing to meet this challenge. Taiwan, on the other hand, has succeeded.

Today, the entire world salutes the people of Taiwan for a successful election and a reaffirmation of their deep devotion to democratic governance.     

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.

About the Author

Robert Hathaway

Robert Hathaway

Global Fellow, Director Emeritus,
Former Director, Asia Program, Woodrow Wilson Center; Former Public Policy Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center
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