Taipei's 1998 race for mayor carried much importance, as the political climate of Taiwan naturally effects the already fragile relationship between Taiwan and mainland China. The election was generally a two party race between the Nationalist Party and the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party, although the New Party, a Nationalist Party off-shoot, was expected to garner around 10% of the votes, at the expense of the Nationalist Party.
The major difference between the two contending parties is their stance on the identity of Taiwan. While the democratic Progressive Party calls for the independence of Taiwan, the Nationalist Party is content to operate as an independent nation while remaining committed to the long-term goal of unifying with the mainland.
The Nationalist Party candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, won Taipei's December mayoral elections, defeating the Democratic Progressive Party incumbent, Chen Shui-bian. If Re-election of the DPP incumbent had occurred, many feared that a national victory for the DPP could follow, increasing tense relations across the Taiwan Strait. Ma Ying-jeou's election is also considered a victory for the so-called New Taiwanese, citizens who were born on the mainland then later moved to Taiwan. Historically, the New Taiwanese have been, often unfairly, challenged for having ties to the mainland and, consequently, less identification with Taiwan.
Late October- Already, slogans, posters, and sound trucks fill Taipei neighborhoods. Polls show Ma and Chen neck and neck.
11.20.98- Campaigning officially begins.
12.5.98- Ma Ying-jeou wins the mayoral election with 51% of the vote. Chen Shui-bian gets 46% of the vote.
12.6.98- Ma gives a speech in which he explains his position on the
relationship between Taiwan and mainland
China. Basically, he feels that Taiwan and the mainland should maintain the status quo. " Advocating unification is not practical at the moment, but advocating the formation of the Republic of Taiwan is even more unrealistic," Ma said.