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China ties at stake again as Taiwan polls approach

Friday, March 13, 2015

Subject

Politics in Taiwan as the 2016 election comes into view.

Significance

Public opinion continues to swell for Taiwan's chief opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections come into view. A recent poll indicated that more than 57% of respondents believed that the DPP's likely presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, would be elected president. Tsai, currently the only candidate for the DPP presidential nomination, will unite the party. Other heavyweight candidates have already bowed out.

Impacts

  • The lack of a primary challenge will let Tsai move toward the centre on cross-Strait relations.
  • A more moderate China policy will allow Tsai to prevent a rift with Washington, Taiwan's most important ally.
  • The DPP's economic populism will prevent serious debate over heavily subsidised energy and healthcare.
  • China would prefer a Kuomintang victory but will moderate its pre-election comments to avoid a backlash that helps the DPP.
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