Taiwan votes in local elections

Taipei: Voting to elect local governments and decide on 10 referendums was underway on Saturday in Taiwan.

The polling stations opened at 8 a.m. and will close at 4 p.m. The results – first of the elections and then of the referendums – are expected on Saturday night or early Sunday, reports Efe news.

Some 19.1 million Taiwanese are eligible to elect 11,047 local representatives among 20,863 candidates, including councillors and mayors of the six special municipalities of the island and mayors and magistrates in 16 other cities and counties.

Among the referendums are polls on whether to legalize same-sex marriage, whether to curb thermal power-plant production to reduce pollution, whether to ban foods from Japan’s radioactive contaminated areas, and whether to use the name “Chinese Taipei” instead of “Taiwan” at the Tokyo Olympics.

The name change is opposed by China and, according to some islanders, athletes could be prevented from participating in the Games should the name change goes ahead.

In the last local elections of 2014, the ruling Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) won 13 mayorships, with 47.55 per cent of valid votes.

The opposition Kuomintang Party (KMT), six with 40.7 per cent; and the independents, three with 11.7 per cent.

According to analysts, the polls were a test for President Tsai Ing-wen who’s current approval rating stood at 54.2 per cent while only 28.5 per cent supported her.

In 2016 the KMT, more friendly to China than the PDP, lost for the first time in the island’s political history, control of parliament and the presidential elections.

China adopted a tough stance against Tsai from the moment of her takeover in response to her refusal to accept the island as part of China.