Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan’s main opposition party will become the island’s first female president in a landslide victory over the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) today, as voters turned their backs on closer China ties.
KMT candidate Eric Chu conceded defeat in a disastrous rout for the party as he addressed tearful crowds at the party’s headquarters in Taipei.
The vote count is continuing but live television figures from polling stations show Tsai of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has secured a historic landslide victory, with around 60 per cent against 30 per cent for Chu.
That would be the biggest ever win for any president in Taiwan – the previous record was 58.45 per cent for current KMT president Ma Ying-jeou in 2008.
At KMT headquarters in Taipei, a tearful Eric Chu, the candidate for the party, said: ‘I’m sorry… We’ve lost.
‘The KMT has suffered an election defeat. We haven’t worked hard enough and we failed voters’ expectations.’
Chu also said the KMT had lost its parliamentary majority, the first time it has ever lost control of the island’s legislature.
Observers say it is unlikely Tsai will do anything to provoke Beijing if she wins.
Analysts also agree there will not be any immediate backlash from China, as alienating Taiwan would play against Beijing’s ultimate aim of reunification.
In the latest cross-strait drama, the plight of a teenage Taiwanese K-pop star dominated local news coverage, with presidential candidates drawn into the row.
Chou Tzu-yu, 16, of girl-band TWICE who is based in South Korea, was forced to apologise after sparking online criticism in China for waving Taiwan’s official flag in a recent Internet broadcast.