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June 23, 2017

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Tsai elected president in landslide

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Tsai Ing-wen was elected president yesterday in a landslide victory that also saw her Democratic Progressive Party win the majority of seats in the next Legislature.

The DPP chairwoman will become the first-ever female president of Taiwan after garnering more than 6.89 million votes, or 56.12 percent of the ballots cast, according to figures from the Central Election Commission.

"Taiwan's people used their votes to write history today," Tsai told an international press conference after preliminary results showed the country will see the DPP become the ruling party for the second time since direct presidential elections were first held in 1996.

"Our message to the international community is that democratic values have now been deeply ingrained in Taiwan,"said Tsai, urging political parties to set aside conflicts and friction and work together for the betterment of the nation.

"The results of the elections tell me that the people want to see a government more willing to listen to the people ... tonight is the first mile toward reform," she added.

Addressing cross-strait issues, which are set to be some of the thorniest she will face as president, Tsai said both sides of the strait have the obligation to find a mutually acceptable means for interaction based on dignity and equality.

She later greeted thousands of supporters celebrating her victory at a rally, promising to step up cross-strait communication, avoiding provocation and confrontation.

Kuomintang candidate Eric Chu conceded defeat, having garnered only upward of 3.8 million votes, or 31.04 percent of the total vote. It was a significant decrease compared to President Ma Ying-jeou's re-election campaign in 2012 where he received around 6.89 million votes to beat Tsai.

People First Party's James Soong finished a distant third, obtaining more than 1.57 million, or 12.84 percent of the vote. But the results were already a massive improvement from his last presidential campaign in 2012, during which he won fewer than 400,000 votes.

"I congratulate Chairwoman Tsai, this is the choice of the Taiwanese people," said Chu as he conceded defeat and offered to resign as KMT chairman at a rally of supporters.

"I'm sorry, but the KMT lost. We didn't work hard enough. We let you down," he told the supporters. "I assume the biggest responsibility and I resign as KMT chairman."

But he urged supporters not to lose faith in the KMT, who he said will act as a loyal opposition.

Premier Mao Chi-kuo also offered to resign in the wake of the KMT's crushing defeat, meaning that if his resignation is approved, President Ma will have to look for a caretaker to lead the Cabinet for four months until Tsai is sworn in as president in May.

The KMT camp proposed recently that the majority party in the Legislature form the Cabinet after the elections.

Tsai rejected such an idea, saying that having the majority party form the Cabinet is an issue that may need to be addressed through amendments to the Constitution. In Taiwan, it is the president's party that forms the Cabinet, regardless of the number of seats it holds in parliament.

According to the final results, the DPP won 68 seats in the next Legislature, while the KMT obtained only 35.

The New Power Party, an emerging political force recently formed by mostly young people, had an impressive performance, winning three district seats and two more at-large seats to become the third biggest party in Taiwan.

Soong's PFP won only three seats. One seat went to the Non-partisan Solidarity Union and another to an independent.

All other minor parties, including the pro-unification fundamentalist New Party and the pro-independence fundamentalist Taiwan Solidarity Union, failed to win any of the legislative seats up for grabs.

Earlier in the day, voting proceeded without major incident.

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