At about 4:30 on Saturday afternoon I arrived at the Freddy Action HQ (逆轉本部) on Roosevelt Road to watch the vote count in Taiwan's Presidential election. Even though only a few votes had been counted, SET-TV (三立電視臺) showed the KMT was leading 59% to the DPP's 41%. As more votes were counted the margin remained much the same with the final count being KMT 58.45% to DPP 41.55%. Early in the evening it was obvious that Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT would become the next president of Taiwan.
I then headed to the DPP's campaign headquarters on Chang'an East Road. The atmosphere was very subdued and some disappointed DPP supporters were shedding tears. Various people came out to make speeches before Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang arrived at around 7:30 pm. Frank Hsieh congratulated Ma Ying-jeou on his victory and accepted responsibility for the defeat. Here is the press release issued by Frank Hsieh's campaign team.
[News release] Hsieh concedes defeat and vows to continue defending Taiwan’s interests and democracy
Date: March 22, 2008
Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank C.T. Hsieh conceded tonight his defeat in Taiwan’s presidential election, promising he would continue to defend Taiwan’s interests and work for Taiwan’s democracy. "The people of Taiwan have used their ballots to make a choice," said Hsieh, after he and running mate Su Tseng-chang took the stage with campaign staff and deeply bowed to cheering supporters. "I accept the results of this election and congratulate Mr. Ma Ying-jeou and Mr. Vincent Siew."
He expressed his deepest gratitude to supporters and his sincere regret at the DPP's failure to meet people's expectations, stressing that "I should and am willing to assume greatest responsibility." He said that in the spirit of "love and trust," it was now time to repair the divisions and heal the wounds in society that had been generated by the election. Even more important, Hsieh stressed, was to keep alive "the flames of democracy that our predecessors have left for us." He promised he would "continue to protect Taiwan and to protect Taiwan’s democracy," and that he would fulfill all the promises he made as a candidate. "In no way does my defeat signify a regression of Taiwan’s core identity," emphasized Hsieh. "I have lost, but democracy has not lost."
Hsieh thanked all staff and volunteers, and said he would not forget the encouragement and warmth he received from supporters on March 16, referring to the nationwide marches and rallies that the DPP held in the name of protecting Taiwan's democracy. He expressed his deep "love of Taiwan, the land, and the nation."In closing, Hsieh stressed once again that although he had lost the election, "Taiwan did not lose," and deeply bowed again to the crowds.
Press Release of the Viva Taiwan: Frank Hsieh for President Campaign Department of International Affairs
The other important news is that both UN referendums failed to pass. This is a big setback for Taiwan and its efforts to join the UN and participate more fully in the international community. A recent Zogby poll showed 85% of Taiwanese were in favour of petitioning for UN membership. However, the KMT's boycott of the DPP referendum meant many voters refused to take the referendum ballots. Voters that took the ballots voted overwhelmingly in favor. However, there were not enough ballots cast to meet the threshold for the referendums to pass. I will have more analysis of the election results in a few days.