DPP's William Lai Ching-te elected as Taiwan's new President

This is the first time that DPP is elected for three terms.

Fiona Tan | January 13, 2024, 08:42 PM



William Lai Ching-te has won the 2024 Taiwan presidential elections, becoming the island's eighth President.

Rivals conceded defeat

Lai's win extends the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) reign into an unprecedented third term, and signifies the first time in history that main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) has lost the presidential election three times in a row, Bloomberg reported.

Lai's two opponents in the presidential race, KMT's Hou You-ih, and TPP's Ko Wen-je conceded defeat at around 8pm on Jan. 13, 2024.

@mothershipsg A tight race with a clear winner. #taiwan #taiwanelection #news ♬ original sound - Mothership

Hou apologised to his supporters for "disappointing them" while Ko thanked his supporters and promised that he will not "give up" just because of the election results.

Ko said he will continue to fight for the future of Taiwan. Choking up, he joked that he will continue to go to work at 7:30am on Jan. 14, even though it is a Sunday.

“I believe that in four years the TPP will still get votes from our supporters. One day we will get our own victory."

"As long as you do not give up, we will not give up," Ko said, promising to make a comeback in the next election four years later.

The contest for the presidency has traditionally seesawed between the two main parties DPP and KMT since the 2000 Taiwan presidential election, when the DPP won and ended the KMT's 72-year-reign.

The two-way fight between DPP and KMT was disrupted by the relatively new kid on the block, TPP, which was formed in 2019, expanding the contest into a three-way fight.

Despite its relatively new beginnings, TPP's Ko has done "a bit better than expected", and his results have surpassed his performance in the polls, BBC reported.

What Lai's win means for Taiwan

When asked in an interview what kind of a country Taiwan will be under his leadership, Lai told Commonwealth Magazine that it will be a "united country, embracing citizens with different political affiliations, collectively strengthening the Republic of China, Taiwan".

Saying that the DPP was founded in order to establish a democratic system, Lai added, "we seek to govern so as to build an ideal nation, look after our people domestically, and expand our international horizons externally, while resisting China’s ambitions for annexation."


In the days leading up to the Jan. 13, 2024 Taiwan presidential election, both China and the KMT have framed the election as a choice between peace and war.

The incumbent DPP and the main opposition KMT have opposing views of relations with China, with the latter broadly favouring closer ties with China.

Former KMT member and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said in a recent interview with German media Deutsche Welle that China is "very nervous" about Lai, and asserted that he is a "supporter of Taiwan independence".

All this is set against rising cross-straits tensions and the looming threat of an invasion by China, which has stepped up military activity around Taiwan in recent years.

Maintaining the status quo

Lai, who is known for saying in 2017 that he is a "pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence", softened his stance during the election, repeatedly stressing that he is not seeking to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

He has also aligned himself more closely with fellow DPP member and outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, whom he is expected to pick up the baton from, and has been described by observers as "Tsai Ing-wen 2.0".

The Associated Press quoted Lai saying on Jan. 9, 2024 that he hopes to reopen dialogue with China, after a dearth of communication for the past eight years, where Beijing has nearly completely refused to communicate with Taiwanese leaders.

This came on the heels of Lai's Jan. 6 comments, when he said "peace is priceless and war has no winners".

"While aspiring for peace, we harbour no illusions. We will build up Taiwan’s defence deterrence ... Our door will always be open to engagement with Beijing under the principles of equality and dignity," Lai said.

@mothershipsg Taiwan’s 8th President #taiwan #taiwanelection #news ♬ original sound - Mothership

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