Taiwan midterm elections put divisive issues on the ballot

Taiwan midterm elections put divisive issues on the ballot

They are anxious its pro-business and pro-unification stance could make the island too dependent on China economically and risk Beijing having too much influence over Taiwan's affairs.

China has welcomed the defeat of Taiwan's ruling, pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in Saturday's local elections.

The KMT differs from the DPP in one area of policy - an area that can be identified as much of the present economic woes that are afflicting the nation - and that is its turbulent relationship with mainland China. The ruling party advocates for more distance.

They know that China does not want to attack and has no timeline for reunification, and they are confident in Taiwan's democracy.

The recent turn of fortune for the party has not gone unnoticed by Al-Jazeera's Adrian Brown, who believes the DPP's push to turn away from Beijing played a role in their defeat. Her premier also offered to resign, and the Central Election Commission head quit over the slow processing of ballots. While expected to grow at a relatively healthy pace of 2.6 per cent this year, Taiwan's high-tech economy is generating fewer opportunities than in the past, while disparities in income are growing. "There are people who have criticized the government's way of communicating as being too arrogant".

College student Kwan Chin-shun, 18, voting in Taipei, said she supported equal marriage rights.

Alawmaker from the president's Democratic Progressive Party told CNN any positive referendum result "must pass" in the next legislative session, but a legal expert said lawmakers would be left to decide how to respond to the results of the referendum. Taiwan democratized in the 1980s.

Tsai's domestic reform initiatives, from the island's pension scheme to labor law, have also come under intense voter scrutiny recently.

Analysts said that Taiwan's sense of separateness from China was ingrained, but that voters wanted a cross-strait relationship that did not damage the island economically, a balance that successive governments have found hard to strike.

Sullivan from Nottingham University said Tsai should take an even tougher stance on China.

The Nationalists accept Beijing's condition for talks, and when former president Ma Ying-jeou ruled from 2008 to 2016 the two sides signed more than 20 deals on trade, transit and investment.

Since snatching office in 2016, Tsai has pursued a stronger stance against an increasingly assertive Beijing.

One lesson that perhaps the KMT has learned and the DPP should learn is that if they push Taiwan toward a path that would lead to merging with China or potential conflict with the mainland, they risk losing elections. "You can find your own golden key".

That has produced a "negative example" for Taiwan in terms of faith in China's promises and enthusiasm for unification with the mainland, Choy said.

The office's Taiwanese counterpart fired back swiftly, saying the elections - along with referendums on topics such as same-sex marriage and Taiwan's name used at the Olympics - were an "internal affair whose results testified to the mature development of Taiwan's democracy".

The majority of voters approved a measure Saturday stating "Civil Code regulations should restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman" and two other measures opposing same-sex marriage while rejecting measures to legalize same sex marriage and asking if civil code marriage regulations "should be used to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married".

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