“Congratulations, everyone! We have won,” President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) shouted to his cheering supporters who gathered at his national campaign headquarters in Taipei last night to celebrate his re-election.
Ma and his running mate, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), won the nation’s fifth direct presidential election, garnering 51.6 percent of the vote to defeat Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her vice presidential candidate, Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全).
However, Ma’s win was less convincing than the 58.45 percent of the vote he secured in the 2008 presidential election, in which he beat the DPP’s Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), who received 41.55 percent of the vote, by more than 2 million votes. Ma fought a tough battle to secure re-election, defeating Tsai by 797,561 votes.
People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), who had been cast in the role of spoiler by the pan-blue camp, obtained 369,588 votes, which might suggest that many voted strategically to avoid a split in the pan-blue vote.
Supporters began to gather in Taipei outside Ma’s campaign headquarters on Bade Road, next to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters, soon after voting booths closed nationwide at 4pm. The area outside the headquarters filled up with pan-blue voters avidly watching the election results on a big screen.
The crowd started cheering when the Ma camp announced that the Ma-Wu ticket was leading the Tsai-Su ticket by more than 500,000 votes at about 5:30pm, shouting “It’s not enough,” “Go, Go, Go, Ma Ying-jeou.”
Before Ma’s appearance, KMT heavyweights, including Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and former KMT deputy chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), as well as Lien’s son Sean Lien (連勝文), appeared on stage and thanked voters for their support, saying that the KMT would continue to humbly lead the nation.
Acknowledging that Ma had been forced to fight a challenging battle, Lien Chan said the KMT would reflect on the criticism it had received during the election campaign and examine its performance.
“The KMT’s victory is significant as it is a recognition of our dedication to defending the Republic of China and building a clean government,” Lien Chan said.
Ma’s camp did not formally declare victory until after 8pm, by which time the Central Election Commission had officially counted 90 percent of the votes. Ma and Wu then walked onto the stage more than an hour behind schedule to celebrate with thousands of excited supporters, who set off air horns and shouted: “President Ma, we love you.”
As it started to rain, Ma raised both his hands and gave victory signs as he celebrated victory.
“This is not my victory, but a victory for the Taiwanese people. This is a victory for our pursuit of integrity, prosperity and peace in Taiwan,” Ma said.
The president attributed his victory to the people’s insistence on integrity and his success in improving cross-strait relations. He promised to continue leading the country on what he called a “Taiwan course” with more reforms.
Ma thanked his rivals for playing an important role in ensuring a peaceful presidential election and promised to consider much of the advice offered by Tsai and Soong during the campaign.
“We will continue to seek cooperation with opposition parties and my administration will invite all party leaders to discuss national affairs every six months,” he said.