The opposition candidate from Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has won the island’s presidential election on Saturday, exit polls showed. Tsai Ing-wen is set to become Taiwan’s first female president.
The ruling Nationalist Party has already admitted defeat. Support for the DPP has gone up since 2014, when hundreds of students occupied Taiwan’s parliament for weeks in what appeared to be the largest display of anti-China sentiment the island had seen in years. But the election comes at a tough time for Taiwan’s export-dependent economy, which plunged into recession last year. One of the biggest challenges for the new president will be to balance the various superpower interests of China (Taiwan’s largest trading partner) and the US with those of Taipei.
Tsai risks enraging Beijing if she tries to forcefully assert Taiwan’s sovereignty, reversing years of warming China ties under incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou, whose forces retreated to Taiwan in 1949.