Tsai Ing-wen has become Taiwan’s first female president after winning the island’s election on January 16.
The 59-year-old leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that wants independence from China.
In her victory speech, Tsai Ing-wen vowed to preserve the status quo in relations with China, adding Beijing must respect Taiwan’s democracy and both sides must ensure there are no provocations.
China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province – which it has threatened to take back by force if necessary – and is bound to be watching the election closely.
January 16 polls come just months after a historic meeting between the leaders of the two sides, the first in more than 60 years when outgoing Kuomintang (KMT) President Ma Ying-jeou met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in November for talks that were seen as largely symbolic.
It is the flagging economy as well as Taiwan’s relationship with China that are the key issues for voters.
This is the second-ever victory for the DPP.
The first was by pro-independence advocate Chen Shui-bian – during his time as president between 2000 and 2008 tensions escalated with China.
Tsai Ing-wen has not made her stance clear. A former scholar, she has said she wants to “maintain [the] status quo” with China.
However, opponents say relations will deteriorate as she does not recognize the “one China” policy. She became chairwoman of the DPP in 2008, after it saw a string of corruption scandals.
Tsai Ing-wen lost a presidential bid in 2012 but has subsequently led the party to regional election victories. She has won increased support from the public partly because of widespread dissatisfaction over the KMT and Ma Ying-jeou’s handling of the economy and widening wealth gap.
Eric Chu, 54, is the mayor of New Taipei City and stepped up to become chairman of the party in October. The KMT is at risk of losing its majority in the legislature for the first time in history.
The former accounting professor is popular with young people in the party, but has not been able to change public opinion that is increasingly unhappy with the party’s friendly stance towards China and the island’s economic travails.
In 2014, hundreds of students occupied the parliament in the largest show of anti-Chinese sentiment on the island for years. Labeled the Sunflower Movement, protesters demanded more transparency in trade pacts negotiated with China.
Taiwan’s election has an unlikely third main protagonist – 16-year-old Chou Tzuyu of South Korean girl band Twice.
The Taiwanese singer has appeared in a video bowing and apologizing after being seen waving a Taiwan flag – in a row that has dominated local media coverage.
Chou Tzuyu said she felt “proud to be Chinese” and said there was “only one China” – but many on the island felt she had been coerced into saying sorry.
Presidential frontrunner Tsai Ing-wen insisted holding a Taiwan flag was “a legitimate expression of national identity”, however Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the row was being exploited to “stir up feelings”.
Croatian opposition challenger Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has become the country’s first female president, winning by the narrowest of margins.
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic secured 50.5% of the vote with 99% of ballots counted, while incumbent Ivo Josipovic was close behind on 49.5%.
IvoJosipovic has conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent.
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s win is a sign that Croatia may be shifting to the right after the centre-left coalition’s failure to end six years of downturn.
The election was seen as a key test for the main parties ahead of parliamentary elections expected to be held towards the end of 2015.
The gap between the two candidates remained at about one percentage point throughout much of the second round.
Turnout was 58.9% – some 12% more than in the first round held two weeks ago, which was equally close.
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, 46, is a politically conservative member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which pushed the country towards independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
She is a former foreign minister and assistant to the NATO secretary general.
“I will not let anyone tell me that Croatia will not be prosperous and wealthy,” Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic told jubilant supporters in the capital Zagreb, calling for national unity to tackle the economic crisis.
Ivo Josipovic, a 57-year-old law expert and classical composer, had been president since 2010.
He had been so popular for so long that it seemed impossible he could fail in a bid for re-election.
His problem was that he was backed by the governing, centre-left coalition that has failed to pull Croatia out of a six-year-long recession.
PM Zoran Milanovic apologized for being a “burden” to the outgoing president. His government may also pay the price in elections later this year.
Croatia, which became the newest member of the European Union when it joined in July 2013, has an unemployment rate close to 20%.
The Croatian president has a say in foreign policy and is head of the army, but running the country is primarily left to the government.
First lady Michelle Obama has denied she may run for office after her family leaves the White House.
In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts on Monday, Michelle Obama was asked if she might enter politics after President Barack Obama leaves office. The first lady said “definitely” not. Instead, Michelle Obama will opt to pursue something that is “service focused,” though she did not specify what.
Michelle Obama was asked if she might enter politics after President Barack Obama leaves office
Michelle Obama was one of Barack Obama’s most effective surrogates and fundraisers during his successful 2012 re-election campaign. She delivered a well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention, prompting some political onlookers to speculate she could have a political future after her husband’s term is over.
Though Michelle Obama repeated her adamant desire to avoid politics, she did seem to give a nod to another first lady who did enter into the political arena – Hillary Clinton.
When asked about the prospect of a female president, Michelle Obama said she would like to see one “as soon as possible” and that “we have some options”.