By Francis Kuo
Incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou won yesterday’s national polls by a comfortable margin, defeating opposition rival Tsai Ing-wen in an election that was touted to be much closer than it was.
Ma of the ruling Kuomintang or Nationalist party defeated Tsai of the Democratic Progressive party by a reported margin of 800,000 votes, winning 51.6 percent of an estimated 6.89 million votes.
The Nationalist party also won 64 of 113 seats in legislative elections, 17 fewer than the party won in the last election.
“We have won. It is the victory of clean [government], prosperity and peace,” said Ma, who has been dubbed “Mr Clean” by media and the public in Taiwan, during his victory speech last night.
He added that his win signaled that people were looking for peace across the Straits with mainland China and a just distribution of wealth.
Ma made the building of closer ties to the mainland through improved economic ties a main tenet of his re-election campaign, in contrast to Tsai, who has denied the so-called “1992 Consensus” upon which the push for normalized relations between Beijing and Taiwan have been based.
Ma also announced for the first time during this year’s campaigning that he has been a Catholic since childhood, and that he had attended Midnight Mass this Christmas in Kaohsiung diocese.
Though some in Taiwan have chalked the admission up to currying votes among Taiwan’s growing Catholic community, Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi has said that he is the country’s first Catholic president and that his deeds and acts have never let the Church down in the past.