Mon, May 09, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Immigration agency numbers added to poll considerations

By Tseng Wei-chen  /  Staff Reporter

The Central Election Commission proposal to hold the combined legislative and presidential elections on Jan. 14, one week before the Lunar New Year holidays, could have an impact on the number of voters and the outcome of the elections.

The National Immigration Agency said data from previous years showed Taiwanese abroad tended to return to Taiwan for the New Year en masse, representing an influx of more than 200,000 people.

However, when elections are held, the commission said, the number of Taiwanese returning to Taiwan drops, the commission said.

Although it is difficult to predict how many Taiwanese of voting age would return home around the time of next year’s elections, it will likely have an effect on the outcome.

That effect could be compounded by an increased number of cross-strait flights during the Lunar New Year, which is currently being negotiated. If adopted, greater capacity could result in as many as 100,000 persons returning to Taiwan for that period, the agency said.

Taipei and Beijing both added 88 flights during the Lunar New Year period last year. Each side added 103 flights this year, the agency said.

During the special municipalities elections in November last year, China Airlines (CAL), EVA Airways (EVA), China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines accepted scattered requests for additional flights, with CAL and EVA adding only six flights in total, a marginal addition if contrasted with the number of flights added for the Lunar New Year holidays.

This year, with the Lunar New Year starting on Feb. 2, 775,405 people entered Taiwan in January, 120,000 more than in February and 60,000 more than the 716,166 persons in December, the agency said.

The homecoming effect was more obvious the previous year, when the Lunar New Year fell on Feb. 13. The number of people entering Taiwan in February of that year was 901,675 persons, about 200,000 more than the 677,047 in January and 682,805 in March, it said.

The agency compared those numbers with the total inflow during the month of March, the month when past presidential elections were held.

In March of 2008, a total of 709,046 persons entered the country, between 200,000 and 300,000 more than the 682,805 for the same month last year and 687,519 this year.

This showed that elections did not have a substantial effect on the number of people returning to Taiwan, the agency said.

As for the special municipality elections in November, 772,158 persons entered the country in October and 730,643 in November and 713,166 in December.

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