Taiwan casts votes in local elections, same-sex marriage referendum

Saul Bowman
November 26, 2018

Taiwan's constitutional court declared in May last year that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, and set a 2-year deadline for legalization.

Beijing has sought to punish Tsai and her pro-independence leaning party by ramping up military drills, poaching allies and successfully persuading worldwide businesses including airlines to list the island as part of China on their websites.

Analysts said that Taiwan's sense of separateness from China was ingrained, but that voters wanted a cross-strait relationship that did not damage the island economically, a balance that successive governments have found hard to strike.

Independent Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) appeared to have won re-election in Taipei by a very narrow margin, but votes were still being counted as of 1:48 a.m. Sunday.

Now, the independence-leaning party controls only six of Taiwan's cities and counties, while the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party controls 15.

Analysts said the defeat ruled Tsai out as a candidate for the presidency in the 2020 election.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that both sides acknowledge there is "one China", with each side having its own interpretation of what "one China" means.

Tsai apologized to the party's supporters for the party's disappointing performance.

Candidates have fanned out across the island to press the flesh and canvass votes, and have held noisy, colorful rallies that have become the hallmarks of Taiwan's vibrant democracy, in marked contrast to China where the Communist Party tolerates no dissent to its rule.

Tsai has made little progress despite campaigning on a promise of marriage equality in the run-up to elections in 2016.

China recently conducted military drills around the island and tried to convince Taiwan's diplomatic allies to abandon it.

But the party's prospects are challenged by a backlash against Tsai's attempts to overhaul the country's pension scheme and labor law.

The people of Taiwan voted to maintain the concept of marriage as defined in the Civil Code to be between a man and a woman.

Voters also cast ballots in referendums that will affect issues ranging from gay rights to the island's volatile relationship with China.

Voters in Taiwan backed anti-gay marriage referendum Saturday in what LGBT activists said was a devastating blow to the island's reputation as a rights trailblazer.

CNN reports that there is "broad disagreement" among legal experts in Taiwan as to whether the government is mandated to make the referendum result law.

Meanwhile other organisations welcomed the result.

"Pro-family" group the Coalition for the Happiness of our Next Generation said the win was a "victory of all people who treasure family values".

The election also saw voters reject a proposal to compete under the name "Taiwan" instead of "Chinese Taipei" in the Olympics. Beijing, which has never given up its claim to Taiwan, denies the allegations.

The result puts Taiwan lawmakers in a bind: they have been instructed by the High Court that keeping same-sex marriage illegal would be unconstitutional, but have been told by the country's citizens that they do not want same-sex marriage legalised.

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