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Taiwan votes on decrease voting age, mayors, metropolis councils

HUIZHONG WU TAIPEI: Voters headed to the polls throughout Taiwan in a carefully watched native election on Saturday that may decide the energy of the island’s main political events forward of the 2024 presidential election.
Taiwanese residents will likely be selecting their mayors, metropolis council members and different native leaders in all 13 counties and in 9 cities.
There’s additionally a referendum to decrease the voting age from 20 to 18. Polls opened at 8 am (0000GMT) on Saturday.
Whereas worldwide observers and the ruling get together have tried to hyperlink the elections to the long-term existential risk that’s Taiwan’s neighbour, many native specialists don’t suppose China has a big function to play this time round.
“The worldwide society have raised the stakes too excessive. They’ve raised a neighborhood election to this worldwide stage, and Taiwan’s survival,” mentioned Yeh-lih Wang, a political science professor at Nationwide Taiwan College.
At an elementary faculty in New Taipei Metropolis, the town that surrounds the capital Taipei, voters younger and previous got here early regardless of the rain to forged their ballots.
Yu Mei-zhu, 60, mentioned she got here to forged her poll for the incumbent Mayor Hou You-yi, operating for reelection.
“I feel he has carried out nicely, so I wish to proceed to assist him. I imagine in him, and that he can enhance our surroundings in New Taipei Metropolis and our transportation infrastructure.”
President Tsai Ing-wen additionally got here out early Saturday morning to forged her vote, catching many citizens without warning as her safety and entourage swept by the varsity.
She then urged folks throughout Taiwan to forged their votes.
Tsai, who additionally chairs the ruling Democratic Progressive Social gathering, has spoken out many occasions about “opposing China and defending Taiwan” in the middle of campaigning.
However the DPP‘s candidate Chen Shih-chung, who was operating for mayor in Taipei, solely raised the problem of the Communist Social gathering’s risk a number of occasions earlier than he shortly switched again to native points as there was little curiosity, specialists mentioned.
Throughout campaigning, there have been few mentions of the large-scale army workouts focusing on Taiwan that China held in August in response to US Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s go to.
“So I feel if you cannot even elevate this concern in Taipei,” Wang mentioned.
“You do not even want to think about it in cities within the south.”
As an alternative, campaigns resolutely centered on the native: air air pollution within the central metropolis of Taichung, site visitors snarls in Taipei’s tech hub Nangang, and the island’s COVID-19 vaccine buying methods, which had left the island briefly provide throughout an outbreak final yr.
Candidates spent the final week earlier than the elections in a packed public schedule. On Sunday, the DPP’s Chen marched by Taipei with a big parade full of dancers in dinosaur fits and performers from totally different international locations.
Chiang Wan-an, the Nationalist get together’s mayoral candidate, canvassed at a {hardware} market, whereas Vivian Huang, an impartial candidate, visited lunch stalls at a market. All three made stops at Taipei’s well-known night time markets.
The query is how the island’s two main political events – the Nationalist and the incumbent DPP – will fare.
As a result of each Tsai and the Nationalist’s chair Eric Chu handpicked candidates, the efficiency will affect their very own standings inside their get together, in addition to the get together’s energy within the coming two years.
“If the DPP loses many county seats, then their potential to rule will face a really sturdy problem,” mentioned You Ying-lung, chair on the Taiwanese Public Opinion Basis that commonly conducts public surveys on political points.
The election outcomes will in some methods additionally mirror the general public’s perspective in direction of the ruling get together’s efficiency within the final two years, You mentioned.
Observers are additionally watching to see if outgoing Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je’s Taiwan Individuals’s Social gathering’s candidates will choose up a mayoral seat.
A 2024 presidential bid for Ko will likely be impacted by his get together’s political efficiency Saturday, analysts say.
Ko has been campaigning together with his deputy, the impartial mayoral candidate Huang, for the previous a number of weeks.
Meals stall proprietor Hsian Fuh Mei mentioned he was supporting Huang.
“We wish to see somebody worldwide,” he mentioned.
“If you happen to have a look at Singapore, earlier than we have been higher than Singapore, however we have fallen behind. I hope we are able to change course.”
Others have been extra apathetic to the native race.
“It feels as if everybody is nearly the identical, from the coverage standpoint,” mentioned 26-year-old Sean Tai, an worker at a ironmongery store.
Tai declined to say who he was voting for, however needs somebody who will elevate Taipei’s profile and convey higher financial prospects whereas holding the established order with China. “We do not wish to be utterly sealed off. I actually hope that Taiwan might be seen internationally,” he mentioned.

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