Date
16 December 2017
Student activists occupied the Taiwanese parliament in March this year to protest an attempt by the ruling Kuomintang party to ratify a contentious cross-strait trade pact. Photo: AFP
Student activists occupied the Taiwanese parliament in March this year to protest an attempt by the ruling Kuomintang party to ratify a contentious cross-strait trade pact. Photo: AFP

First-time voters could swing Taiwan local polls

First-time voters could be the deciding factor in Taiwan’s upcoming local elections, with their votes seen crucial for the success of many candidates across the island and a source of worry for the ruling Kuomintang party.

Up to 620,000 people will be able to vote for the first time as Taiwan heads to the polls on November 29 to elect city mayors, township councilors and lower-level officials.

As their turnout rate is expected to be 80 percent, it means that first-timers will cast about 500,000 ballots, a force that no candidate can ignore, Apple Daily (Taiwan) noted.

One of the first-time voters who had taken part in the 24-day Sunflower Movement earlier this year said he and friends are disappointed with the Kuomintang and that they hope to use their votes to express their discontent and teach the ruling party a lesson.

Wang Yeh-lih, a professor at the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University, said younger people tend to support opposition parties, and that they pose a big threat to Kuomintang in the coming election.

It is estimated that most of the about 100,000 newly added voters in Taipei are first-timers. Both the city’s mayoral candidates, Ko Wen-je, a National Taiwan University Hospital doctor who is backed by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); and Sean Lien Sheng-wen, a candidate supported by the ruling Kuomintang, have been doing their best to win the youth vote.

Many young voters said they were touched by a recent campaign ad from the Ko camp.

In the polls this Saturday, people will elect municipal mayors, county magistrates, city mayors, municipal, county and city councilmen, township chiefs, ward chiefs, and aboriginal district chiefs.

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TL/AC/RC

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