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Taiwan: Asia's model democracy?

Elections were largely free and fair, according to reports. A true test of what the country wants.
Taiwan elections democracy ma ying jeou 2012 01 16Enlarge
Supporters of re-elected Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou cheer in Taipei on Jan. 14, 2012. (Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images)

What do election results tell us about Taiwan today?

In the days prior to Saturday's polls, the race seemed tight.

But in the end, incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou won by more of a margin than was expected — 51.6 percent to opposition Democratic Progressive party candidate Tsai Ing-wen's 45.6 percent.

More from GlobalPost: Taiwan elections going down to the wire

In short, GlobalPost's Cain Nunns said on Monday, the Taiwanese voted for "stability."

The economy has made marked improvement despite global recession under Ma's watch, and while the opposition gripes that most benefits have gone straight to the rich, the masses appear to have spoken.

Nunns wrote by email:

I think they thought it was fair enough to give [Ma] another term given some of the impressive economic numbers. I think China is becoming less of a factor despite how much we write about it.

Indeed, some of Ma's numbers are impressive. Taiwan's GDP grew about 10.9 percent in 2010 and foreign investment surged as well. 

Nunns, who covered the polls in Taipei, went on to say that what he thought was most noteworthy about the polls was how representative they were, for the most part, of true democracy.

It doesn't get much play in the press, he said, but that Taiwan, along with Japan, is Asia's "most stable and vibrant democracy." He continued:

Voter turn out was about 77 percent. It was largely fair and fully free. I think the Taiwanese see democracy as an opportunity they have worked hard for. They seem to cherish it far more so than we do.

Amid protests around the world pushing for elusive democratic reforms, Taiwan appears to be an example of what to strive for. 

Radio Free Asia chronicled the responses of some microbloggers on the mainland. Many appear jealous at the display of a democracy of which they feel deprived.

"So the people of Taiwan are happy," wrote user @denglaixiaotudetuma. "What about the people on the mainland, then?"

User @nantianyoulong agreed, adding: "We are human too. The people of China should also have the right to be happy."

"It reminds me of a saying when I was a child, that two-thirds of the world's population live in great suffering," wrote @feichangdao11171314. "There is a second half to that saying; that two-thirds of the world's people live in mainland China."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/taiwan-elections-democracy

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