Ma elected President of Taiwan

The have won the presidential election in Taiwan, and is now the President-Elect of . He takes office on 20 May 2008.

It was a crushing victory, with a 17% margin for Ma over the the DPP candidate. I met Ma last July and he is an extremely charismatic politician. I am not surprised he won.

Politics in Taiwan is passionate and people really love or hate one of the parties.  KMT allege the DPP won last time with a fake assassiniation attempt, and DPP supporters have a long list of grievances against the KMT going all the way back to invading Taiwan.

Generally the KMT supports a more conciliatory relationship with the PRC and I imagine tensions in that part of the world should be somewhat reduced:

Ma based his campaign on promises to reverse the pro-independence direction of outgoing President Chen Shui-bian and leverage China’s white-hot economic boom to re-energize Taiwan’s ailing high-tech economy.

He has proposed a formal peace treaty with Beijing that would demilitarize the Taiwan Strait, the 160-kilometer-wide (100-mile-wide) waterway that separates the two heavily armed sides. But he has drawn the line at unification, promising it would not be discussed during his presidency.

Economically, he wants to lower barriers to Taiwanese investment on the mainland — it already amounts to more than US$100 billion (euro65 billion) — and to begin direct air and maritime links between the sides.

The referenda to apply for UN entry also failed as less than six million (36% of eleigible voters) voted in them, under the level required by law. By comparison 13 million voted in the Presidential election. That also will have people sighing in relief around the world, as it had been criticised by everyone from the US to Russia as inflammatory.

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