By Benjamin Yeh, Michelle Yun
Tens of thousands rallied in Taiwan Friday night as presidential candidates made their last bid for votes in an election likely to usher in its first female leader at this weekend’s polls.
Voters are expected to turn their backs on eight years of rapprochement with China in Saturday’s pivotal election as scepticism over closer ties with Beijing grows.
The flagging economy is also a major issue, with the public blaming the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) for failing to improve livelihoods.
Huge crowds chanted and waved flags in climactic rallies for the two main candidates, Tsai Ing-wen of the Beijing-wary main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — who is the frontrunner for the leadership — and the KMT’s Eric Chu.
A sea of supporters shouted Tsai’s name at her rally near the presidential office, wrapped in raincoats on a cold, wet night.
The atmosphere was jubilant despite the drizzle, with crowds chanting “Tsai Ing-wen, elected!”
“This election is not about defeating anyone, it’s about overcoming the difficulty facing the country,” Tsai said.
“If you hope to see Taiwan change, please go to the polling station and vote.”
During campaigning earlier in the day she reiterated her promise to maintain the “status quo” with Beijing.
Supporters voiced their disappointment with current KMT president Ma Ying-jeou and his Beijing-friendly approach.
“Ma did not bring happiness to his people,” said 63-year-old accountant Fu Ren-chih.
“His pro-China policies are bad for Taiwan.” Read more