Taiwan’s First Female President?

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Taiwan’s upcoming election has received considerable attention regarding its potential impact on cross-strait and U.S.-China relations. Following eight years under the Kuomintang (KMT) party and improvements in cross-strait relations, Taiwan is poised to elect its first female president in Tsai Ing-Wen, a Western educated leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who unsuccessfully ran for the office in 2012. Whereas female presidents and prime ministers are not unusual in Asia, Tsai appears to be the first not related by blood or marriage to a former leader or democracy movement star. Nor does Tsai have extensive experience in elected offices, despite Taiwan leading the region for the percentage of women elected to the legislature and lower level offices.

Stark differences emerge between this election and Tsai’s previous presidential bid in 2012. The DPP has gradually rebounded from the backlash associated with their last successful presidential candidate, Chen Shui-Bian (president from 2000 to 2008), who was sentenced to 19 years in prison on bribery charges. Tsai faces incumbent KMT President Ma Ying-Jeou, who is focusing his campaign largely on the growing stability in cross-strait relations.

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