FACTBOX-Five facts and questions about Taiwan's local elections
Taiwan holds local elections on Saturday, a key test of support for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls in early 2024.
Taiwan holds local elections on Saturday, a key test of support for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls in early 2024. Here are five facts and questions about the elections:
WHAT ARE THE ELECTIONS FOR? - The elections, held every four years, choose city mayors and county magistrates in all 22 cities and counties. In one city, Chiayi, the election is postponed to Dec. 18 after a candidate died.
City and county councillors will also be elected along with some other lower level officials including borough chiefs. The results should be clear by early Saturday evening.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ISSUES AND IS CHINA ON THE AGENDA? - Technically they are about local issues such as transport and the environment. The main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), has also hammered the DPP on their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after a surge in cases this year.
But the DPP has reframed the election as a vote about sending a message to China and the world that Taiwan will not be intimidated and will stand up for itself and for democracy, especially given China's war games near the island in August. The KMT, which traditionally favours closer ties with China but strongly denies being pro-Beijing, has also pledged to defend Taiwan's democracy and freedoms and has denounced the DPP for trying to make the election about China.
Mayors, county magistrates and councillors are not directly responsible for China policy. There will also be a vote on whether to lower the voting age to 18 from 20, which both parties support.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST LOCAL ELECTION IN 2018? - The KMT thrashed the DPP, winning 15 cities and counties to the DPP's six.
WHAT ARE THE KEY RACES TO WATCH ON SATURDAY? - Both parties have concentrated efforts in wealthy and populous northern Taiwan.
The main race to watch is for the Taipei mayorship, held by Ko Wen-je of the small Taiwan People's Party, who cannot run again because of term limits. The DPP has put up former health minister Chen Shih-chung, the architect of Taiwan's strategy to fight COVID-19, while the KMT's candidate is the telegenic Wayne Chiang, a rising party star. Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang is also running as an independent.
Other cities to watch are tech hub Hsinchu and neighbouring Taoyuan, both now held by the DPP. Reporting on opinion polls is banned by law in the 10 days before the election.
WHAT WILL THIS VOTE MEAN FOR THE 2024 ELECTION? - Even if the DPP does badly it does not necessarily bode ill for their chances in 2024. The DPP bounced back to handily win the presidential and parliamentary election in 2020 despite a trouncing in 2018.
Manoeuvring to decide presidential candidates will begin in earnest once Saturday's vote is done. Limited to two terms, President Tsai Ing-wen cannot run for a third. The likely front runner for the DPP is Vice President William Lai, while for the KMT its chairman Eric Chu is considered most probable to be their nominee, according to sources in both parties.
Current Taipei mayor Ko may also run for the presidency.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)