Taiwan Elects Its First Female President

Tsai Ing WenLast July we wrote about how Taiwan was on the verge of electing a female president for the first time in its history, with both major political parties nominating female candidates. Over the weekend the island made it official by voting Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party into office. Tsai won 56 percent of the vote in what the Economist is calling a “landslide that will change Chinese politics.”Once she takes office in May, Tsai’s challenges will include revitalizing a stagnating Taiwanese economy and continuing to negotiate Taiwan’s position as a semi-independent state intent on protecting its sovereignty.CNN notes that Tsai is the first Asian woman to be elected head of state “without being some kind of political legacy”—before she entered politics she was a law professor with multiple advanced degrees.Interestingly, it’s clear she didn’t gain her power by acting like a man. One of her economic advisors told The Wall Street Journal: “She’s shy. She’s not particularly good with people…Most politicians get into politics because of a quest for power. She got into politics because she feels obligated to change the culture of politics in Taiwan.”Tsai reflected last year about the larger meaning behind her potential election, saying: “Of course, there are some people in Taiwan that are still rather traditional and they have some hesitation in considering a woman president. But among the younger generation, I think they are generally excited about the idea of having a woman leader. They think it is rather trendy.”Between her new status as the “most powerful woman in the Chinese-speaking world” and the cat-loving side she shows off on social media, we think Tsai herself is rather trendy, too.