TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As voters in Palau head to the polls Tuesday (Nov. 3) to elect their new leader, the Taiwanese government is expecting to maintain a strong relationship with its Pacific ally regardless of the results.
Tommy Esang Remengesau, who has been friendly with Taiwan and the U.S., is reaching the end of his eight-year tenure. Two independents will compete for the top job: Vice President Raymond Oilouch and businessman Surangel Whipps Jr., who is also Remengesau's brother-in-law.
Both candidates are expected to continue the nation's existing foreign policy, including recognition of Taiwan, if elected. They will be tasked with reviving Palau's economy while keeping its society free from coronavirus.
Whipps, who received significantly more votes than Oilouch in their primary election in September, has urged Taiwan to provide more support to Palau amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, his opponent believes it is important for the new administration to pursue assistance from the U.S. as well as China since the small nation should "have no enemies."
Preliminary results from the election will be revealed Tuesday evening, though it could take a week to determine Palau's new president if the vote is close, according to Radio Taiwan International.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Palau has managed to stop the infectious disease from entering its territory. However, due to its heavy economic dependence on tourism, Palau has witnessed a devastating decline in its economy and an upward surge in private-sector unemployment.