The BBC reports that the Taiwanese president suffered a defeat because the referendum failed to go through:
Despite the president’s election victory, he is being seen as having suffered a significant defeat with the failure of a referendum on relations with China after too few voters participated to make the result valid.
But this overlooks two important points:
The Taiwanese military will purchase new anti-missile technology regardless.
There is strong evidence that the referendum helped win the election for Chen.
Actually, more than one million people who did not vote for Chen participated in the referendum. Moreover, more than 91 percent of those who took part in the referendum voted yes (around 6.78 million or so) on both referendum topics, which significantly exceeded the number of people who voted for Chen…
It has to be mentioned that the DPP’s votes in the past have consistently been around 35 percent and never went higher than 40 percent, and yet in Saturday’s election Chen managed to garner more than 50 percent of the votes. This means that around 10 percent of votes cast for Chen came from non-traditional pan-green or moderate voters. Since the referendum on Saturday had been the core of Chen’s campaign platform, the referendum had helped Chen win over that key 10 percent of the votes.
Now, I personally think that Taiwan could use its money in better ways than buying unnecessary military equipment (when China attacks it will be to occupy the island, not blow it up), but I think it is worth pointing out that Chen’s referendum should be seen as shrewd politics and not some kind of “failure” on his part.
While I’m on the subject I should add that I find it highly unlikely that Chen arranged to be shot as part of some elaborate election ploy. I also think it is irresponsible of the KMT to be spreading rumors to this effect. However, it is worth noting that because of the state of emergency that was declared, several hundred thousand army and police were unable to vote. Their votes would probably have otherwise gone to the KMT and won them the election. For this reason, more than anything else, I don’t expect the issue to go away.