Sun, Mar 23, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Decisive victory for Ma Ying-jeou

FIRST ON THE AGENDAMa, who has promised to strike a peace deal in a bid to end decades of cross-strait tension, called on China to dismantle its missiles aimed at Taiwan before the two sides can engage in peace talks

By Mo Yan-chih, Ko Shu-ling and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AGENCIES

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou, center, running mate Vincent Siew, second right, and Ma's wife Chow Mei-ching, second left, celebrate in Taipei after winning the election yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his running mate Vincent Siew(蕭萬長)scored an overwhelming victory in yesterday's fourth direct election for president, taking nearly 60 percent of the vote to defeat Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Frank Hsieh(謝長廷) and his vice presidential candidate Su Tseng-chang(蘇貞昌).

The result saw the KMT sweep back into power after eight years in opposition.

Voting, which took place between 8am and 4pm, was peaceful, with no reports of clashes at the 14,401 polling stations across the nation.

A total of 13,221,609 people voted in the election, a turnout of 76.33 percent of the 17,321,622 registered voters. There were 117,646 invalid votes.

The KMT ticket won 7,658,724 votes, or 58.45 percent of the ballots, with the DPP pair garnering 5,445,239 votes, or 41.55 percent.

The KMT enjoyed a swing of more than 10 percent of the vote in Taichung, Miaoli and Nantou counties, with northern counties and cities -- traditional bases of support for the KMT -- tending to have higher swings than the southern electoral districts. Taipei County and Taoyuan County -- key electorates because of their large populations -- punished the DPP with swings of 7.99 percent and 9.32 percent respectively.

The two referendums on entry to the UN -- the DPP's on entering the UN under the name "Taiwan" and the KMT's on returning to the UN using the country's official title, "Republic of China," or any other title that upholds the nation's dignity -- both failed to garner enough votes, falling short of the 50 percent turnout required for their results to be valid.

The CEC announced the official results at 9.30pm.

Speaking to supporters from behind a bulletproof screen following his win, Ma called the results a victory for hope and an expression of the nation's desire for change.

"This is a victory for people who hope for change and openness and reform, to march forward," he said. "This election result is not a personal result, nor a victory for the KMT, it is a victory for all Taiwanese people."

"Your voices are heard. People have the right to demand a better life. Only change can bring hope, only change can provide opportunities," he said.

Party supporters let off firecrackers and fireworks, while DPP supporters shed tears.

Hsieh, meanwhile, talking to supporters across town, said: "We accept defeat. It's my own defeat, it's not the defeat of the Taiwanese people. Please don't cry for me."

"Although we lost the election, we have a more important mission. The torch of democracy should not be extinguished," Hsieh said.

Ma will formally take over on May 20, when President Chen Shui-bian(陳水扁) steps down upon completing his second term in office.

Yesterday's win comes after the KMT clinched a more than two-thirds majority in legislative elections in January, giving it a clear mandate to push ahead with its policies to bolster an economy that has lagged behind some of its Asian peers.

Jeff Lin (林建甫), associate dean of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences at National Taiwan University, said: "Ma's victory is a sign that the people of Taiwan want to see change in the economy and in government administration. Voters hope that Ma will help cross-strait relations return to normal and that both sides can see a win-win solution. But this will be his biggest challenge, because cross-strait relations require a lot of negotiations and Taiwan will not have people capable of doing that, so we could be at a disadvantage."

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