As of this writing, Taiwan has elected Ma Yingjiu to become the third elected leader of Taiwan against the pro-war candidate Frank Hsieh. Although the issues of Tibet and the United Nations were made into key issues by the pro-war and pro-independence camps, it was the economy that became the main issue in this election. The legislative elections in the early part of the year had already brought a 2/3rds majority to the Kuomintang and this recent presidential election has brought them the executive branch.
Many non-Chinese expats often made delusional claims that Frank Hsieh was going to easily triumph over the evil Chinese Ma Yingjiu in the 2008 Taiwan presidential election. Most of this premature analysis was on the basis of slanted English-language reports from the corporate media or from DPP-affiliated publications like the Taipei Times. Some of these expats are simply siding with these groups because they bought into the romanticised ideals of Taiwanese independence without understanding the cultural nuances and realities behind it.
One of my Taiwanese acquaintances once told me that these pro-independence expats are no different than so the so-called “Naderites” that brought Bush to power in 2000. He pointed out that although these people like progressive ideals and reform, their rabid fanaticism and limited knowledge of politics, history and culture turned their movement into a liability and did nothing but create infighting.
Then there are the so-called overseas Taiwanese who happen to be “politically active” on all things pertaining to the island of Taiwan. These people often pride themselves on not knowing a word of Mandarin, Taiwanese or even writing in Chinese characters all in the name of becoming “pure Taiwanese”. Ironically, these same idiots would be dismissed as “Americans” and would have serious trouble surviving outside of Taipei should they ever go to Taiwan. It’s unfortunate that this identity was cultivated due to simplistic influences from their families or to assert a false identity to distance themselves from the perceived backwards “Chinese” (as taught in American history textbooks).
In any event, the average voter in Taiwan cared about the economy. Although the Chen administration will be remembered for changing the political landscape with notable reforms, increased regional pride, and greater freedoms, they still failed to promote economic growth that would have improved the quality of life for all in the island. As a result, they have alienated their core business supporters, former human rights supporters, and even the younger generation who are indoctrinated to their beliefs. In the end, it was the economy that compelled the island to elect Ma Yingjiu by a significant margin to Frank Hsieh.
The pro-war and anti-Chinese bloggers may try to spin the election results or even randomly bring up China when discussing the elections, but the fact is the KMT won both the legislative and presidential elections in a clean election.