First-time voters could decide the nation’s neck-and-neck presidential race, the DPP said yesterday, urging young voters to show up on polling day to help shape the nation’s future.
An estimated 760,000, out of a total electorate of 18 million, are able to cast a ballot for the first time on Jan. 14, having turned 18 since the last vote in 2008, and they could sway the outcome in the close race, observers said.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has been reaching out to young people with a string of Internet and campus activities, said it hopes its presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), will bag more than half of the first-time votes in her bid to become the nation’s first female president.
“Older voters have mostly made up their minds, but young people’s votes are still up for grabs. They could be the critical few to determine this election,” said Lin Ho-ming (林鶴明), vice head of the youth division of the DPP’s campaign.
“Young people can determine Taiwan’s next step ... they want to see dignity on their own soil and they want to change Taiwan,” Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the DPP said.
Young supporters of the DPP expressed concern that Taiwan had become overly reliant on China under the rule of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election.
“I think Ma is putting aside Taiwan’s sovereignty in order to please China and he will lead us to unification with the mainland,” said Tseng Yu-shan, a 21-year-old college student.
Candies Hsieh, a graduate student, said she supported Ma, because he had helped the economy via such measures such as allowing in more Chinese tourists.
“I think Ma is clean and hard-working, and he can maintain stability in Taiwan. If we have a different leader, everything will have to start all over again and that might be bad for Taiwan,” she said.
Some voters, on the other hand, blamed Ma for a widening income gap, rising unemployment and a sluggish economy.
“Ma has been doing poorly in the past three years and we need a new leader, who can bring a new vision and give us more hope,” Kao Wei-sheng, 20, said.