Ruling DPP’s William Lai secures Taiwan’s presidency as rivals concede defeat, likely to

TAIPEI: Taiwan on Saturday (Jan 13) elected Mr William Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as its next president – an outcome likely to displease Beijing, in an election that has been dominated by cross-strait relations.

Vote counting is still under way, but Mr Lai’s rivals – Mr Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT) and Dr Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) – conceded defeat at about 8pm. 

As of 8.05pm, Mr Lai had secured about 40 per cent of support, ahead of KMT rival Mr Hou who bagged about 33 per cent, and the TPP’s Dr Ko with about 26 per cent, with more than 13 million votes counted, according to broadcaster TVBS.

Voter turnout from 8am to 4pm was at 69 per cent according to an earlier update by the Central Election Commission. Almost 20 million people were eligible to vote in this election.

The win marks the first time a DPP president will hand over the reins within the party. Current vice-president Lai succeeds outgoing president Tsai Ing-wen, who cannot run for re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

Mr Lai, 64, was the frontrunner in public polls going into Saturday’s vote. The former mayor of Tainan is a noted proponent of Taiwan’s independence. His rivals and critics have said his election would endanger Taiwan and threaten peace with China.

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