Voters witnessed the nation's second transition of power last night as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
Although haunted by a series of accusations about his integrity and stance on national identity during the campaign, Ma garnered 58.45 percent of the vote -- 7,658,724 votes out of 17,321,622 eligible voters -- overwhelming Hsieh by 2,213,485 votes.
Hsieh prevailed in Kaohsiung County, Tainan County, Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung, which are considered traditional strongholds of the DPP.
However, Hsieh suffered defeat in two major DPP strongholds -- Tainan City and Kaohsiung City, where he had served two terms as mayor.
As expected, Ma took the lead in northern, central and eastern Taiwan and the outlying islands.
Alexander Huang (
The DPP had sought to stir up a sense of crisis since the KMT won the January legislative election by a landslide, taking 81 out of the 113 seats.
The three seats held by the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union, which is on friendly terms with the KMT, and the one seat held the People First Party, give the pan-blue camp a total of 85 seats.
Hsieh's camp had highlighted the negative consequences of the KMT dominating both the legislature and the central government.
However, a desire to break the political deadlock between the KMT-controlled legislature and the DPP government might have surpassed voter concerns about one-party dominance.
"We had experienced not only an economic downturn but also government gridlock for eight yearss," Huang said.
"Now you have a three-quarters [KMT] majority in the parliament in place and it will be there for four years," he said.
"I think people might have considered that if we were going to get gridlock [for four years] again against the three-quarters majority of the KMT, that [the deadlock] would get even nastier," Huang said.
Chen Chao-jian (
"Ma's victory had nothing to do with whether the KMT had carried out party reform," Chen said.
"The victory came because the DPP did not have apparent administrative achievements over the past eight years," he said.
"Too many of its government officials were indicted. It also lost its clean image," he said.
Chen Chien-fu (
Another major factor leading to Ma's victory, Chen Chao-jian said, was low turnout.
Chen Chao-jian said the high turnouts in the presidential elections in 2000 and 2004 -- both more than 80 percent -- had proven beneficial to the DPP.
However, the Central Election Commission put yesterday's turnout at 76.33 percent, which Chen Chao-jian said had hurt the DPP because this showed that a certain number of swing voters and "light-green" voters were still disappointed with the DPP.
Chen Chao-jian added that the KMT's campaign to boycott the DPP-proposed referendum on joining the UN using the name "Taiwan" might have also prevented high turnout.
Chen Chien-fu said the low turnout meant the KMT had been able to convince voters that the DPP might resort to "dirty tricks" before the election.
He said it might also have resulted from Hsieh's adoption of too much negative campaigning.
Chen Chien-fu also focused on the Hsieh camp's attacks on Ma's family members, including accusations that Ma's wife, Chow Mei-ching (周美青), had stolen some newspapers from a library at Harvard University when she studied there.
These attacks might have discouraged swing voters from participating in the election, Chen Chien-fu said.
Although Hsieh had played the fear card by bringing China's recent crackdown on demonstrators in Tibet into campaign focus prior to the presidential poll, such a strategy might have proven of little impact on Ma's electoral performance, the analysts said.
"After all, Taiwan is not Tibet," Chen Chao-jian said. "Besides, Taiwanese voters do not care that much about international affairs."
He said the Tibetan issue also had little to do with what voters were concerned about, such as the economy and domestic politics.
Huang, who surveyed some 60 graduate students in his class about their opinions regarding the Tibetan issue before the election, said that although Hsieh had tried to warn Taiwanese voters that Taiwan could become "the next Tibet" if Ma won, voters were still not convinced of Hsieh's analogy.
Voters consider Taiwan and Tibet different situations because Taiwan has a different political system, geographic proximity to China and the ability to impact the global supply chain of the information-technology industry, Huang said.
"Ma's remarks about the Chinese crackdown in Tibet prior to the poll might also have created the impression among voters that Ma would be a tough leader," Chen Chien-fu said.
Chen Chien-fu was referring to Ma's comment on Tuesday that he would not rule out the possibility of boycotting the Beijing Olympics this summer if the situation in Tibet worsens.
Huang said that Ma's promise to work to improve relations with China might have also worked to his advantage.
"At least Ma gave people an impression that they [KMT and China] can get down to business and talk to each other," Huang said.
Voters supported Ma because they looked forward to "more controllable and stable cross-strait relations," Huang said.
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