The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary– January 17, 2024; Day 533
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Difficult Word/ PhraseContextual Sense
Fragile Physically or emotionally weak
Incumbent Someone who has an official job, especially a political one
Rapprochement An agreement reached by opposing groups or people
DuopolyA situation in which only two companies control all the business in a particular industry
Accused A person or people who may be guilty of a crime and who are being judged in a court of law
Outright Completely or immediately
Mainstream Considered normal, and having or using ideas, beliefs, etc. that are accepted by most people
AllianceA group of countries, political parties, or people who have agreed to work together because of shared interests or aims
Threatened In danger, or likely to stop existing
Constrained Forced to do something against your will
Contention The disagreement that results from opposing arguments
Rejection The act of refusing to accept, use, or believe someone or something
Assumed To accept something to be true without question or proof
SalienceThe fact of being important to or connected with what is happening or being discussed
ReunificationAn occasion when a country that was temporarily divided into smaller countries is joined together again as one country
Consensus A generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people
Consequences A result of a particular action or situation, often one that is bad or not convenient
Diminishing To reduce or be reduced in size or importance
Preference The fact that you like something or someone more than another thing or person

Vote for continuity: On Taiwan’s presidential elections

Status quo seems to suit Taiwan best in its relationship with China 

The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) victory in Taiwan’s presidential elections for a historic third consecutive term reflects a vote for continuity from the 14 million voters, most of whom favour a maintenance of the fragile (physically or emotionally weak) status quo in relations with China and the preservation of Taiwan’s current status. The results will see Vice President William Lai Ching-te take over from incumbent (someone who has an official job, especially a political one) Tsai Ing-wen, as he defeated Hou Yu-ih from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), which has pushed for rapprochement (an agreement reached by opposing groups or people) with China, and newcomer Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), a new emerging political force that has broken the DPP-KMT duopoly (a situation in which only two companies control all the business in a particular industry). Mr. Lai said the elections — the first in what has been dubbed the year of elections given the many countries, including India, that go to the polls in 2024 — were a message to the world, showing “the commitment of the Taiwanese people to democracy”. Beijing, which has over the past decade under the DPP accused (a person or people who may be guilty of a crime and who are being judged in a court of law) the ruling party of seeking outright (completely or immediately) independence over the island that it claims, said the results showed that the DPP “cannot represent the mainstream (considered normal, and having or using ideas, beliefs, etc. that are accepted by most people) public opinion”, pointing to its reduced vote share. Mr. Lai secured 40% of the vote, Mr. Hou 33% and Mr. Ko 26%. The KMT and TPP’s attempts to form a joint opposition alliance (a group of countries, political parties, or people who have agreed to work together because of shared interests or aims), which could have threatened (in danger, or likely to stop existing) the DPP’s bid, failed in the run-up to the elections. While the DPP has returned to power, its exercise of authority may be constrained (forced to do something against your will) given that it has lost its status in the legislature as the largest party to the KMT, which may exert a moderating influence on its policies to carve out a greater international space for Taiwan — a major bone of contention (the disagreement that results from opposing arguments) with Beijing.

If the previous presidential election, in the aftermath of China tightening its grip on Hong Kong, was seen as a referendum on the future of cross-strait relations and a rejection (the act of refusing to accept, use, or believe someone or something) of a possible “one country, two systems” future for Taiwan that has been mooted by Beijing, in the latest polls, local issues, including the economy and jobs, have assumed (to accept something to be true without question or proof) increasing salience (the fact of being important to or connected with what is happening or being discussed), even as the broad preference (the fact that you like something or someone more than another thing or person) for continuing with the status quo remains. The last decade has seen rising tensions, and the latest vote will ensure these will continue, including from the frequent military drills conducted by China in the waters and skies surrounding Taiwan. China has refused to rule out the possible use of force in “reunification(an occasion when a country that was temporarily divided into smaller countries is joined together again as one country), although the consensus (a generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people) among most experts is that the devastating economic consequences (a result of a particular action or situation, often one that is bad or not convenient) of a conflict for China, Taiwan and the region will certainly give Beijing pause. That Taiwan’s voters have backed the DPP to continue helming Taiwan’s politics, despite China’s threats, suggest diminishing (to reduce or be reduced in size or importance) returns from Beijing’s moves to squeeze Taiwan, politically and militarily.

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