May 14, 2005

Taiwan Ruling Party Wins Poll

While China is ready to wage war if Taiwan pushes for independence, the mainland, in its divide and rule policy, has been garnering support of leaders opposing Chen
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Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the election on Saturday for a 300-member assembly, to decide on a package of constitutional reforms set to test the limits of the island’s China policy.

The DPP garnered 1.64 million votes, followed closely by the Opposition Kuomintang’s (KMT) 1.5 million votes, according to the Central Election Commission.

The hardline pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) collected 2,73,147 votes. KMT's ally the People First Party took 2,36,716.

A total of 12 political parties and alliances were vying for 300 seats in the National Assembly based on their share of the vote. This was the first time Taiwanese voters chose parties rather than candidates.

The elections are seen by political analysts as a litmus test of support for the island’s independence-minded leaders, headed by President Chen Shui-bian, and for the Opposition following recent visits to China by KMT and People First Party leaders.

Relations with China have dominated the agenda as the vote follows back-to-back visits to the mainland by Opposition leaders who adopt a more accommodative stance towards Beijing.

China claims the democratic island of 23 million as its own and has enacted an anti-secession law in March sanctioning war if Taiwan pushes for formal statehood.

“The election is a very serious challenge for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). It can be seen as a referendum on visits to China by Lien and Soong,” said Hong Chi-chang, a legislator for Chen’s ruling DPP, which favours Taiwan independence.

China offered Taiwan a slew of economic incentives in recent meetings with Nationalist (KMT) chief Lien Chan and People First Party (PFP) leader James Soong. Both oppose Taiwan independence. Beijing’s moves are viewed as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy to isolate Chen and pressure him to kowtow to China.

However, Chen has toned down his independence views in recent months — angering some of his core supporters — but still rejects Beijing’s cherished “one China” principle.

Source: Deccan Herald