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Undoubtedly the largest factor to DPP’s landslide victory in both the presidential and legislative elections is the low support for the incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou, which in turn impacted his party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The nail on the coffin was Ma’s breach of promise that a closer tie with China would bring in a better economy for Taiwan.
Riding this wave of discontent for her opponent’s camp, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen took measures to ensure her constituents that she would not rely on China to bring about growth in Taiwan’s economy. Rather, Tsai promised to focus on improving local businesses through government support and to seek other international economic allies.
However, the fact remains that Taiwan is neighbor to the second largest economy in the world. With a unique history with this economic behemoth, Taiwan would need to find ways to communicate across the Strait. With this in mind, Tsai promised to maintain the status quo with China.
The second major factor is the citizens’ increased notion of being Taiwanese and growing national pride. During the eight years of Ma’s administration, tourism and economic trade opened up with China, which led the Taiwanese people to see more of China. People starting to see and understand the gap between the Taiwanese and Chinese culture. Since KMT has traditionally had close ties with China, many people believed that DPP represented the true Taiwanese spirit.
Protests such as the Sunflower Movement started to highlight the wariness Taiwan must have toward relations with China. Furthermore, the curriculum reform protest got young Taiwanese to realize the volatility of Taiwan’s history and highlight history that is uniquely Taiwan’s and not China’s.
All this went into full-throttle as 16-year-old Taiwanese Kpop star, Chou Tzu-yu, was forced to publicly apologize for calling herself Taiwanese. This was one day before the election and the Internet started spreading words to voice outs for Chou by casting ballots the next day. Social media platforms were exploding with pictures saying, “Tonight, we sleep well. Tomorrow, let’s wake up and use our ballots to bring justice to Chou Tzu-yu.”
Lastly, Tsai had started pushing for more liberal policies such as marriage equality and the abolishment of the death penalty. These liberal ideas are appealing to the younger generation’s empathy towards love and mortality, securing the youths’ ballots for DPP.
DPP profited off Ma’s poor performance, but also brought a strong sense of Taiwan pride and wariness towards China. Making itself more appealing to the young voters, DPP was able to clench much of the votes and hold a commanding power for the next four years in the Taiwanese government.
Edited by Olivia Yang