Taiwan’s presidential election in question

The pro-independence presidency of Chen Shui-bian appears far from unassailable, despite his win at Taiwan’s elections yesterday.

The narrowness of the victory – by just 30,000 votes – compelled Lien Chan, the presidential candidate of the Kuomintang (KMT), the Nationalist Party, to call for the poll to be annulled.

He led thousands of supporters in a march on Taiwan’s presidential office to demand the recount.

Crowds shouted “examine the ballots, examine the ballots”, and “A-bian [Chen’s nickname] step down!”

Lien’s supporters say the outcome of the vote is uncertain given the third-of-a-million invalid ballots.

As it stands, president Chen won 50.12 per cent of the vote or 6,470,839 votes, Mr Lien won 49.88 per cent with 6,443,022 votes.

The opposition candidate said a recount was necessary, arguing the poll was “unfair.”

And Taiwan’s High Court has agreed to Lien’s request for all ballot boxes across the island to be sealed.

Court spokesman Wen Yao-yuan said it needed evidence that the ballot was fair.

But the spokesman said the court stopped short of granting a recount.

The electoral commission said President Chen won by the slender margin with nearly 13 million counted.

The election was coupled with a referendum on whether Taiwan ought to strengthen its defences against China’s military build up.

But the election commission said the referendum was void because less than half of Taiwan’s electorate voted.

On Friday, president Chen and vice president Annette Lu were shot at a rally in the southern city of Tainan.