As one of the first and most anticipated elections in 2024, Taiwan has achieved a victory for the community of democracies."
These are the first words of William Lai, the candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party in the presidential elections in Taipei, to his supporters. Lai, a China skeptic with a history of supporting independence, has snatched a result that risks inflaming tensions between Beijing and Washington.
"Tonight we showed the world how much Taiwan cares about its democracy. I want to thank the Taiwanese people for writing a new chapter in our democracy, showing the world how much we cherish our democracy. This is our unwavering commitment," Lai said again.
"The Taiwanese people have successfully resisted pressure from external forces to influence the elections. But we believe that only the people of Taiwan have the right to choose their own president.
Lai assured that he was "determined to safeguard Taiwan from continued threats and intimidation from China" and work to maintain the status quo between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Meeting the media and supporters in the tent erected at the DPP electoral district after the victory of the presidency now acquired. He added that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait "is an important responsibility. We will use dialogue to replace confrontation in exchanges with China."
With the counting almost complete, equal to 98% of the seats, the DPP candidate stands at 40.2%. Hou Yu-ih of the KMT, the KMT's main rival, stops at 33.4%.
The candidate of the KMT nationalists, Hou Yu-ih, has admitted defeat in the Taiwanese presidential elections, recognizing the victory of William Lai, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Hou, candidate of the Kuomintang, a party traditionally close to Beijing's positions, congratulated Lai on his victory, speaking in the evening at the KMT's electoral campaign headquarters in New Taipei, the most populous city in Taiwan where he is mayor on electoral leave .
Moved, Hou "apologized for disappointing voters", promising to continue his political commitment. The KMT is China's preferred negotiating partner and Hou, during the election campaign, promised to restart talks with President Xi Jinping's government in the event of an election in order to ease tensions.
The third candidate, Ko Wen-je, founder and leader of the TPP, also conceded victory immediately after Hou's move and congratulated Lai in another short and emotional speech to his supporters.
Taiwan thus seems destined to elect William Lai as the island's top leadership for the next four years, lining up as president a man whom Beijing has labeled an "instigator of war" and a "troublemaker" due to his pro-independence positions.
Baltic countries, 'Taiwan is an example of democracy'
"We congratulate Taiwan for once again demonstrating the health and well-functioning of its democratic system, which, together with a free-market economy and vibrant civil society, makes it a model for the Indo-Pacific and a resource for the world". This was stated in a joint statement published this morning on the occasion of the presidential elections held in Taiwan by the presidents of the Foreign Affairs commissions of Lithuania, Zygimantas Pavilionis, Latvia, Rihards Kohls, and Estonia, Marko Mihkelson.
The joint statement recalls that Taiwan and the Baltic States are united by a common belief in democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
Appreciation is also expressed for Taipei's contribution to the security, resilience and reconstruction of Ukraine and for its commitment to maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing's reaction to the election outcome
Taiwan's election results reveal that the Democratic Progressive Party "cannot represent the island's mainstream public opinion" and "will not prevent the inevitable trend of China's reunification." This was stated by Chen Binhua, spokesperson for the Chinese government's Taiwan Affairs Office, in what is Beijing's first official comment on the matter. “The elections will not change the basic landscape and development trend of cross-Strait relations, and will not alter the shared aspiration of Taiwan Strait compatriots to forge closer ties,” Chen said.