The first major election in 2024 took place in Taiwan on January 13 and the result was a victory for democracy – and populism. Adding in the November 19, 2023 victory by Javier Milei in Argentina and Geert Wilders leading the Dutch Party for Freedom to victory also in November, 2023 we now have a trend line of three points. We need a few more before we can declare a firm trend line, but the three data points so far show positive, upward momentum for populism.
What else does the victory of Lai Ching-te (William Lai) mean for Taiwan and the world? In a Sunday, January 14, 2024, post-election news conference, four Taiwan political scholars and media held a meeting to discuss the significance of the previous day’s outcome. A number of points were presented and discussed at this event and the take aways are itemized below:
– This was the first time that a single party (the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)) has won a third term in a row.
– This is the first time that the Legislative Yuan (LY – the legislative branch of the Taiwan Government) has no single party with a majority. Some form of coalition must be established. It remains to be seen what will form between the DPP, the legacy KMT, and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP)
– This is the first time that someone with an English name, William Lai, won a major position in an election, this is significant in the Taiwanese psyche.
– The DPP decisively won the Presidency by almost seven points. The candidates for President that China did not want to win, did so.
– All three parties had a platform of significantly increased defense spending.
– The pressure on the U.S. Defense Industrial Base and weapons delivery is noticeable with Ukraine, the Middle East, and Taiwan occurring simultaneously. Innovation and strategy are necessary, and Taiwan can be part of the solution by producing key components and entire systems under license for itself, but also to deliver under contract back to America.
– The TPP’s showing was significant – the largest 3rd party showing ever and they took eight seats in the LY.
– China’s multiple malign attempts to influence the election failed and likely helped the DPP.
– With a ghost-written article in Foreign Affairs, the Globalist had thrown their weight behind the KMT and it failed.
– The KMT may have barely won more seats in the LY, but other indicators show a declining political party.
– The biggest concern of the young are job opportunities and housing prices.
– Many Taiwanese, especially DPP supporters unabashedly consider Taiwan already a sovereign, independent nation, they don’t need anyone’s permission to be country.
– The United States Policy on Taiwan as a nation needs to evolve, the tired talking points from the U.S. Government are non-sensical at this point.
– Some form of representation in the United Nations is a starting point to make 24 million citizens of Taiwan un-invisible.
– Populism is on the rise.