12/12/2004, 00.00
taiwan - china

Opposition wins Taiwan elections

Taipei (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Taiwanese opposition lawmakers cruised the streets in trucks Sunday thanking voters for their victory. Analysts think the election results will help simmering tensions with rival China.

The opposition parties took 114 of the parliament's 225 seats. The DPP (President Chen Shui-bian's party) and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, together won 101 seats. The remaining 10 seats went to independent candidates and other groups.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which struggles for an independent Taiwan, has never won a majority in the parliament, the Legislative Yuan.  During the campaign, the opposition favoured a more conciliatory policy toward China, which claims the self-ruled island is part of Chinese territory.  Most Taiwanese oppose unification with their Communist neighbour, but the majority is also reluctant to make a bold move toward independence and spark a devastating war with China.

Analysts say that among the reasons of the president's loss there is an election's low turnout of 56 percent - 80 percent voted in the March presidential election . But above all, voters were wary about allowing one group to control both the presidency and the legislature. The China Times, one of Taiwan's biggest Chinese-language papers, noted  that the election's results "showed that voters wanted a strong opposition party to balance the ruling party."

One possible election outcome will be continued gridlock in the legislature. Since Chen was elected in 2000, the opposition-controlled parliament has blocked most of his major initiatives. An editorial in the mass-market Apple Daily newspaper said, "Our nightmare is that the blues and greens will continue feuding and be locked in a you-die-and-I-live struggle for the next four years."

One notable result from the election was that parties known to take extreme positions on the unification-independence issue finished poorly. The pro-unification People First Party won 34 seats - 12 less than in the last election. The staunchly pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union's seats shrank by one to 12. The biggest winner was the Nationalists, who picked up 11 more seats for a total 80. Chen's party won two additional seats.

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