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Experts applaud Taiwanese presidential election

Michael Fonte, left, Suisheng Zhao, middle, and Emerson Niou, right, hailed Taiwan's recent election as a milestone in the country's democratic progress. Cecile Schilis-Gallego | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Cécile Schilis-Gallego.

Taiwan’s last election was “a joyful celebration of democracy,” a member of one of the country’s political parties said Wednesday at an event in the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Michael Fonte, a liaison for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party, said the 2012 presidential election – which saw a 74 percent voter turnout and a peaceful acceptance of its results by the losing party – overturned the idea that democracy contradicts Asian culture.

He said his party’s defeat to incumbent Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou might be due to the economic crisis and rising unemployment.

“They didn’t close the deal on the economy,” he said. “People could not grab on the specifics of their economic policies.”

For Suisheng Zhao, professor and director of the Center for China-US Cooperation at the University of Denver, the win by the incumbent president made Taiwan’s democracy appear non-chaotic.

“The Taiwan model will not have an immediate impact, but in the long-term China will have to follow all other East Asian countries,” Zhao said, adding that China’s authoritarian model is not sustainable.

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