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Election Day Live-Blog

Welcome to the Election Day live blog. Whether you’re in Taiwan or observing from elsewhere, please check in with your thoughts. Mail me at or Tweet me @jonlsullivan.


Wrapping up the live blog. Look out for regular posts from Sunday. Thanks to everyone who wrote in, commented, tweeted and joined me cover Election Day in Taiwan 2012. Tsai Ing-wen fought an excellent campaign and offered a plausible alternative to incumbent Ma Ying-jeou. She delivered the DPP’s second best showing in a presidential election, and the best by a non-incumbent DPP candidate. Her concession, and resignation from the party leadership, was extraordinarily dignified. Taiwan loses, not just the DPP, if she doesn’t play some kind of political role. Ma won more than 50% of the vote and the blues will control 70/113 seats. That is a decisive victory (don’t compare to 2008)-given the record Ma has to defend and given a strong opponent. The election proceeded peacefully and without major incident. The votes were counted quickly and transparently. The winners celebrated and the losers commiserated–peacefully. The nature of electoral competition is that there are winners and losers- my congratulations to KMT supporting readers, commiserations to DPP supporters. Finally, the Taiwanese people should be very proud for smoothly conducting this election under the watching eyes of the world.


Here are all the stats for legislative election result and president. In terms of presidential voting, with the exception of Ilan County, the whole of northern Taiwan is blue. Moreover, winning in central Taiwan means the blue has pushed the green into a far southern enclave.


TV reporting Legislative seat distribution (I don’t think that’s official yet, but TV’s pretty accurate): KMT 64, DPP 40, PFP 3, TSU 3, Ind. 3. In effect that’s 70 blue seats and 43 green. Greens have improved on the massacre in 2008 (27 seats), but still, Ma will have a relatively comfortable ride. 64 seats is pretty much the best KMT could have hoped for.


The remaining 34 at-large legislative seats are distributed to party list candidates on basis of the national vote, which currently looks like this: KMT 48%,  DPP 36%, TSU 9%, PFP 5%


Update on the legislative count. The 73 constituency based seats plus 6 seats reserved for Aborigines are distributed as follows: KMT 48, DPP 27, Others (blue) 4.


Turns out, the much maligned “Blue” Taiwanese media polls were spot on


Prof Gary Rawnsley commented: “I would have been surprised if the incumbent did not win. At this stage in Taiwan’s democratic consolidation a one term presidency is unlikely.” Many prognosticators, including myself, were hoodwinked by the momentum Tsai built up during her campaign and by the Ma campaigns ineptitude; turns out it didn’t decide the result.


Presidential result is now official: Ma 6,891,139 (51.6%), Tsai 6,093,578 (45.6), Soong 369,588 (2.8%)


Tsai Ing-wen’s 45-46% is the DPP’s second best showing in a presidential election. Chen Shui-bian won the presidency with 39% in 2000, and was re-elected with 50.1%. This is further reason why I say this should be interpreted as a Ma victory: the DPP fielded a first rate candidate, ran an excellent campaign, mobilized dissatisfaction with Ma’s record over the last 4 years, and yet Ma still won with more than 50%. This was not a case of the DPP shooting itself in the foot. And it wasn’t a case of voters not knowing what they’re going to get with Ma in power for another 4 years. Granted, 46% of people opposing what he’s offering is substantial, but a majority are in favour.


Coverage coming in from global media. WaPo goes with “Taiwan’s pro-China president wins reelection”


Blogger Ben Goren (citing Sinica research fellow Nathan Batto) says that this is a ‘bad win’ for Ma given his performance in 2008. I respectfully disagree. First, there’s no such thing as a bad win. Second, comparing vote share in 2012 to 2008 is comparing apples and oranges: the context of both elections is completely different. Such was the disillusionment with Chen Shui-bian in 2008, that any candidate standing against Frank Hsieh would have won a landslide. Furthermore, in 2008, Ma did not have four years’ of governing history to defend, this time he did. And despite all of the dissatisfaction with his record that we talked about before the election, he still won with more than 50%. Third, Tsai Ing-wen was a more effective candidate than Frank Hsieh (although the hand he was dealt was very disadvantageous its true). And yet Ma still got 52% or thereabouts. Fourth, unlike in 2008, voters this time round knew with much more certainty what Ma was about–they had four years’ of presidential experience to go on. This was the opportunity to reject what he was offering-and not enough people saw fit to.


Tsai Ing-wen: “we’ll be back, we won’t give in, will keep fighting for Taiwan”


Tsai Ing-wen demonstrating how to lose with grace–moving and v impressive message


Tsai Ing-wen making her concession: “Taiwan can’t not have an opposition voice”


Going to do BBC World Service Newshour. Back here in an hour. The presidential result looks pretty definitive to me. Remaining question is how many seats can DPP secure in Legislature. Obvious improvement on the 2008 massacre, but Ma is likely to have another smooth ride in next four years


DPP was hoping for 50 seats in Legislature; that is not going to happen (by some way).


This in from Ben Goren:

“Looks like the DPP will regain many of the Legislative Yuan seats they lost in 2008 but lose the Presidential election by 3-4%.  A bad victory for Ma given his 17% margin of victory in 2008.  I’m predicting about 40 – 45 seats for the DPP”



TV reporting 11 million votes; Ma’s lead 700K


79 Legislative seats declared: KMT 50, DPP 25 (4 others incl. 3 Ind. 1 PFP =Blue+4)


Ma ahead in CEC 


Ma camp already congratulating themselves at HQ


TV has Ma ahead by 700K on 10 million votes


Now having got counts on 5.2 mil, CEC has it tied (to two decimal places!)


DPP figures on TV are utterly downcast


Those of you hoping the TV is wrong, and holding onto the lead CEC is giving Tsai, there is no conspiracy here. The TV is reporting on a much larger number of votes–as they are counted. The CEC has to wait for the polling station to send its figures in


Disparity between CEC reporting and what you see on TV. On approx 3 million votes counted CEC gives Tsai 50%. On approx. 8 million votes TV gives Ma 52%. I believe the disparity is in the TV calculating votes as they are announced at the count, whereas CEC waits for poll station count to be completed. But I could be wrong.


Ben Goren checking in: “CEC website says Tsai is in front but all TV stations are reporting Ma ahead.  Didn’t we see this trend in 2004 and 2000.”


Mild surprise: Soong is already irrelevant. If Ma showing so far is indication of equal dominance in legislative election, Soong’s political career is finally finished


Collection of photos from WSJ showing Ma and Tsai voting


Paul Katz checks in with this: “At this point, it looks like Ma will coast to a 7-8 percentage point win. This is quite surprising, as is the total evaporation of Soong’s support. Based on the outpouring of popular enthusiasm for Tsai, I had assumed that Taiwan’s voters might have been able to overturn the stereotypical notion that Asian voters prefer stability over change (ever notice how “安定” sounds so similar to “唯穩”?) It looks like I was wrong.”


This might be more of an issue than we thought: Richard Kagan comments on why the US should support Taiwan and seek to slow integration with China.


In Hakka strongholds, Ma is polling double number of Tsai votes


The election commission reports that voting went smoothly, bar a couple of incidents of people tearing up their ballots and activists electioneering at polling stations without permission.


“I slept well last night, I am in a good mood and I feel very confident,” Tsai told reporters after casting her ballot near Taipei. Pic of Tsai casting her ballot here.

“I am happy to see some sunshine today. This will help the turnout rate. I hope everybody will go to vote early,” Ma said as he cast his ballot in Taipei.


v. early count Ma 950K, Tsai 800K, Soong 50K. Don’t over-interpret


Early counts are being reported, but far too early to say anything about it. Ma is leading and Soong’s support looks to have collapsed. BUT don’t read anything into it yet.


All the data you need from past presidential and legislative elections is available here (in Chinese). Previous results should give us a quick indication of how competitive Tsai is going to be


@michalthim writes on Twitter: CEC estimates that around 5pm 10-20% of votes will be counted, official results around 10pm (that’s 2pm UK time)


Polls close in 10 minutes! Any reports of queues/hold-ups/people unable to vote?


DPP’s Li Ying-yuan is on. He ran against Ma Ying-jeou for Taipei Mayor in 2002. Ran a brilliant advertising campaign, but Ma was far too strong. Li’s campaign had a bunch of “Ma is ineffective” ads, a frame that resurfaced in 2012.


Images I’m seeing on Taiwanese TV, of huge crowds of people watching the news channels on big screens, is reminiscent of the World Cup!


These are the 5 main things I’m looking for as the results unfold


If you’re new to Taiwanese elections and are joining late, you might want to check out my 101 guide to what’s happening today.


Nick Dobson (@riceagain) has some good pointers for results day resources


The hectoring style of the political talking heads on Taiwanese TV is incompatible with an early morning start; but I shall persevere. Watching here Guy did make a nice point though: when Tsai Ing-wen went to cast her ballot she lined up behind others like a regular voter would. Shouty guy asked rhetorically: can you see Ma Ying-jeou lining up?


Good morning and welcome. Its cold and dark here in England, but 6000 miles away, Taiwanese are voting for their next president and members of parliament. I’ll be here from now until all the votes are in (polls close 4pm in Taiwan) and counted (with this first combined election, this could go on for quite a while), with analysis. Its pretty lonely on campus right now, so if you have something to share about Taiwan 2012, please join me.

Published inInternational PoliticsTaiwan 2012


  1. Carlos Carlos

    I’ll stay up as long as I can, but here in California it’s 11pm so all the interesting stuff will be happening in the middle of the night.

    It feels strange going into an election not having a good idea of what’s going to happen. I’m still surprised by how different the various poll results were two weeks ago… is it normal for polls to be so far apart?

    I’m rooting for Tsai but I’m trying to convince myself that a loss wouldn’t be the end of the world. My wife’s rooting for Ma. We’re not talking much about the election with each other.

  2. Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

    Carlos, you’ll have time to go to bed and the count’ll still be going on when you get up. Probably looking at 10 pm Taiwan time or later for full results

  3. Tony Liu Tony Liu

    50min away until the polls close. enough time to get a bit of shut eye. — Taichung, Taiwan

  4. CJ CJ

    Hi, long-time lurker here. Thank you for your excellent coverage.

    I just voted this morning, and am now back in Taoyuan Airport on my way back to the US. Am hoping for a mid-flight announcement on the election results, but may be out of luck if it comes out when I transit in Tokyo.

    The polling station was very quiet and orderly this morning. I was the only “overseas returnee” voter in my district.

  5. Peter and Malte Peter and Malte

    Dear Jon,

    Thanks a lot for your hard work. Althought is very close it does look like a trend is slowly emerging, doesn’t it? The difference between Ma and Tsai is getting larger…

    Greetings from Taichung

  6. YT YT

    I’m assuming the official results come from the central election commission rather than the counts from the KMT? Based on what I’m watching on youtube (公視/PTS feed), it looks like the KMT counts are coming in faster than the ones from the election commission. The DPP follows the counts of the election commission.
    華視/CTS has an election site ( that includes the legislative votes.

  7. Gary Rawnsley Gary Rawnsley

    Hi Jon, doing a good job there. Despite the polls being so close in the last few weeks, looks like Ma steaming ahead. This is the first presidential election since 1996 I have not been in Taiwan, so missing all the fun, fireworks and noise.

    • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

      Thanks Gary; only 12% of vote counted, but seems quite clear from Ma’s performance across the board (e.g. Hakka areas) that Tsai is disadvantaged

  8. ryan ryan

    concur with all, great job on live blog. hoping for a strong comeback

    • Superbly ilmlainuting data here, thanks!

  9. Gary Rawnsley Gary Rawnsley

    I would have been surprised if the incumbent did not win. At this stage in Taiwan’s democratic consolidation a one term presidency is unlikely.

  10. Lydia John Lydia John

    If we consider that feminsm in Taiwan is not as strong as in other western countries, Tsai hasn’t done badly. I am a taiwanese and I believe that some men didn’t vote her simply because she is a woman.

  11. Gary Rawnsley Gary Rawnsley

    That is an interesting comment from Lydia. Is there any research on this? Some of my friends are claiming the good weather helps to account for the high turnout. Perhaps it is because the polls have been so lose since the beginning, so mobilsing core voters has been more of a priority this time? Jon, do we have any figures about the number of undecided voters? I haven’t had the time to follow this election as closely as the others, so I am a little behind with the research.

  12. Taiwan Teacher Taiwan Teacher

    Field report from post-election Hualien:

    I saw virtually NO celebration of Ma’s victory among the citizens in downtown Hualien last night. To me, this seems a bit peculiar, considering the 70% KMT v 25% DPP vote margin. Why so quiet and why so many sad faces last night and this morning, if 3 out of every 4 persons should be overjoyed?

    Perhaps this unsettled feeling that I perceive is due to the crowd with whom I am in touch… People such as neighbors, military, local politicians, small businessmen… ???

    The locals that I meet don’t seem to be very thrilled about Ma’s victory. Indeed they are very subdued.

    Might something “a little fishy” be going on here?

    • Visitor from Taipei Visitor from Taipei

      I don’t think so– It just might be what you previously mentioned, since my Dad and I have the feeling that Ma was boosted a LOT from the large enterprises with bases and profits in China. Maybe the people who voted for Ma were comprised largely of people from larger businesses?
      And also, pan-blue Taipei was sort of quiet too, well as long as you don’t turn the TV to the newschannel. I guess the “Is Taiwanese politics becoming boring?” article on this website might shed some light…

      I think of myself as middle-inclining-towards-DPP, but this time around I undoubtabledly rooted for Tsai from the beginning. Like Jon said, she’s cool-headed, smart and also extremely charismatic. I wasn’t old enough to vote this time around, but I sure do hope she’ll still be a candidate next time.

      Oh lastly, I dropped in here when I was Googling international news about the elections, and I have to say this is one of the most refreshingly unbiased blogs I’ve ever read. Thank you guys so much for the amazing effort and I will sure be stopping in from time to time!

      • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

        Thanks for your comment. I agree that Ma benefits directly and indirectly from the support of (big) business-related interests. I’m very glad you found the coverage balanced; my goal from the start was to present the many diverse views that go across the political spectrum, and not to emphasize any one view too much. Finally, I hope that Tsai Ing-wen will be in the mix for a presidential bid in 2016 and that you’ll be able to vote for her then. Jon

  13. Taiwan Teacher Taiwan Teacher

    Thanks again, Jon (and to all your contributing authors!), for your website’s wonderful and multi-faceted coverage of the elections. If you ever get to Hualien, please look me up.

    • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

      Thanks very much for your feedback, and comments throughout. Its been a pleasure to share the experience of this campaign with so many people. Hualien is one of the world’s pleasantest spots; hope I get chance to visit there again. Jon

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