01/14/2008, 00.00
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The victory of the KMT, a turning point for dialogue with China

The Kuomintang has obtained 81 parliamentary seats, against 27 for the democrats, but it risks losing consensus in view of the upcoming presidential elections. President Chen leaves the leadership of the democratic party, takes responsibility for the defeat, and leaves for a round of diplomacy. The Chinese people see the elections as a "lesson of democracy", rather than focusing on the results.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - After the crushing victory obtained in the parliamentary elections last January 12, the Kuomintang is now outlining the political strategy that will take it up to the presidential consultations, scheduled for next March. Among the most hotly contested points are relations with Beijing an Washington, and the risk of losing consensus feared by its leading candidate and by various political analysts.

Immediately after the announcement of the electoral results - 81 seats for the alliance formed between the Kuomintang (KMT) and a few other small independent parties, against the 27 obtained by the Democratic Progressive Party of President Chen Shui-bian - Ma Ying-jeou, nationalist candidate for president, said: "We must remain humble, and not commit the errors of the past".

The reference is to the national assemblies that ruled the island until it the democratic party came to power eight years ago. The various governments led by the KMT, in fact, have been distinguished by their high number of cases of corruption and authoritarianism, which induced the people to elect a fiercely pro-independence democratic government in the last two elections.

Now, Ma adds, "we have the chance to start over. Winning the parliamentary elections means nothing: we must remain at our post with the proper attitude, and do everything we can to earn the trust of our citizens". This approach was also suggested by various political analysts, who recall that in Taiwan, many are afraid to have the same party at the head of both the parliament and the executive. They see a shakeup in the democratic party around the corner, especially after the resignation of President Chen.

Yesterday, in fact, the president of the country and of the democratic party announced that he was "willing to take full responsibility" for what happened, and left for a visit to Central America, where he will meet with some heads of state in the few countries that still maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Frank Hsieh has been named to replace him as presidential candidate for the democratic party. Hsieh says "I will do my best" to lead the party up until the elections.

This decision was welcomed favourably by voters, who maintain that the pro-independence and anti-China positions of Chen Shui-bian are dangerous. In fact, the president's various attempts to get the UN to recognise Taiwan have provoked a softening in bilateral trade, and a dangerous separation from the United States - the island's biggest ally - which prefers to maintain the status quo, and doesn't like having its hand forced by Taipei.

This aspect is also strongly debated by the nationalist leadership, which is better able to manage international relations with both of the global giants. After the historic visit of former president Lian Chan to China, in fact, the KMT can count on better diplomatic relations with Beijing, which might want to maintain the current situation on the condition that Taiwan not seek formal independence. In this way, moreover, Taiwanese investors would be guaranteed an important economic benefit, with the ability to penetrate the Chinese market more deeply.

For this reason, the parliamentary elections were closely watched by the Chinese media, which emphasised Chen's defeat and expressed "satisfaction" with the election results. The population also expressed its opinion, but from a different perspective: "In these days", an anonymous commentator writes on the internet, "Taiwan has given a lesson on democracy to China. The important thing is not the results, but the democratic means used to get them".

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See also
Presidential Election: Tibet might sink the KMT
With President-elect Ma Ying-jeou relations with US and China to improve
Frank Hsieh named as new Taiwan premier
Trial of former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian opens
Opposition in Taipei to submit recall motion to oust president


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