A number of conclusions can be drawn about the results of mayoral elections in Taipei and Kaohsiung:
First, in spite of the fact that Taiwan is a young and fragile democracy, the elections went well, and show a maturing of Taiwan. Democracy is working in spite of the obstructionist tactics by extreme elements in the old Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP).
Second, the two main political parties held on to their power bases, while the smaller parties lost ground and seem increasingly marginalized.
Third, the political troubles surrounding President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) -- and to a lesser extent Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) -- due to corruption allegations connected with special funds, appear not to have influenced the outcome to any considerable extent.
Fourth, since the Democratic Progressive Party did better than expected, the main leaders in the party will continue in their respective positions, which will bring stability to the political landscape.
Fifth, the departure of PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) from the political scene will enable KMT Chairman Ma to move forward with sensitive issues such as the budget for the US arms sales to Taiwan, which had been blocked in the Legislative Yuan due to obstruction from Soong.
It remains to be seen though if Ma is willing to show leadership on this issue.?
Gerrit van der Wees
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