Reaction to yesterday's victory in the presidential election by the DPP's Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was a mixture of elation, caution and warnings, with opponents blaming both unpredictable voter behavior and President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) himself for the upset that will end more than five decades of power for the KMT.
While congratulating Chen yesterday, his rivals also responded by expressing their own expectations as to how the president-elect would direct the country toward a better future.
"Faced with the intricate current situation, I hope you will lead Taiwan into a new phase with an open mind and new way of thinking,"said vice president and KMT presidential candidate Lien Chan (連戰), who came in third in the election with just 23 percent of the popular vote.
In a concession speech last night, Lien said he respected the results of the election as an expression of the people's will, adding that the smooth process of the election marked another watershed in Taiwan's democratic development.
Meanwhile KMT officials said that tactical voting, the so-called "dump Lien, save Soong"and "dump Lien, save Chen"effects, were mainly responsible for the KMT's election debacle.
KMT Secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) announced his resignation over the party's failure in the campaign.
Independent candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜), who broke away from the KMT to run in the race and won more than 36 percent of the votes, also pledged support for the new DPP-led government.
"The most urgent task now is to support the new government with foresight,"Soong said.
Independent candidate Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), who won a mere 0.6 percent of the vote, said he hoped Chen would prioritize cross-strait issues and boost public confidence in Taiwan's economy.
Officials from the New Party, which won only 0.1 percent of the vote yesterday, said they believed Chen's victory to a certain extent reflected the 'anti-China' complex of the Taiwanese.
"The intimidating statements from ... Chinese premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) triggered voters' negative emotions, and they voted for Chen,"said Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), leader of the New Party's caucus at the Legislative Yuan.
Beijing, which repeatedly warned Taiwan voters against supporting a pro-independence candidate in the run up to the poll, issued only a brief reaction last night, saying the poll results did not change the island's status as part of China.
Xinhua news agency quoted a statement from the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, as saying: "Taiwan's local leadership election and its results cannot change the fact that Taiwan is a part of China's territory."
It did not mention poll victor Chen Shui-bian by name.
Ma Lik, meanwhile, a Hong Kong deputy to China's National People's Congress, said Beijing will watch Chen's actions before taking the next step.
"Beijing will not declare war, not yet,"Ma said. "He [Chen] must persuade Beijing that he will not declare Taiwan independent and that he wants to improve their relationship."
Affirming the military's resolve to safeguard Taiwan's security, Chief of the General Staff Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) pledged loyalty to the new president on behalf of the armed forces immediately after Chen's victory.
"According to article 138 of the constitution, the armed forces should be loyal to the country and protect the people. And article 36 stipulates that the president is the supreme commander of the armed forces,"Tang said.
In light of China's strong suspicion of the DPP's wish to promote independence for Taiwan, easing cross-strait tensions is widely believed to be one of Chen's biggest challenges.
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