The cloudy and rainy weather forecast for this weekend is worrying campaign strategists in both the governing and opposition camps, as bad weather could affect voter turnout.
Party strategists in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) generally agree that voter turnout in the presidential poll will not be exceptionally high because the campaign has not really hit a fever pitch this time around.
They predict voter turnout of between 76 percent and 80 percent for the presidential election, in which DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) are challenging President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT.
With the number of eligible voters at slightly more than 18 million, the winner of the presidential election would need to get at least 6.8 million to 6.9 million votes.
While many believe that a high voter turnout benefits the KMT, the party’s officials said that depends on the electoral districts, adding that whatever the result, they would be pleased to see a high voter turnout.
Four years ago, voters flocked to the polls to vote for Ma as his popularity was then at its zenith. The same enthusiasm has been harder to find this time around, they said.
In view of this, Ma and his running mate, Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), have intensified their nationwide campaign tours, including carnival-style street parades and night rallies, in recent days in an effort to rekindle voter enthusiasm.
The Central Weather Bureau said it would not be very cold today, but it might rain.
KMT officials said they hope there would not be heavy rain in the north, the party’s stronghold.
In the DPP camp, party strategists expressed optimism that voter turnout would surpass the 76 percent seen in 2008 because this is the first time that the presidential and legislative elections have been held simultaneously and the presidential race is very tight.
DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said Tsai enjoys wide support among young voters.
“However, voter turnout tends to be low in the 20 to 40 age group and many of those in this age group are studying or working away from home. Therefore, we believe that if homecoming crowds are seen on voting day, our presidential and legislative candidates could benefit,” Chen said.
Other DPP strategists said it remains to be seen which camp would benefit from high voter turnout and that many factors should be factored in, such as the return of Taiwanese businesspeople working in China.
“What we can do now is work hard to mobilize our supporters to turn out to vote for our candidates,” a DPP strategist said.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese expatriates, including businesspeople working in China, are flocking home to vote in today’s elections.
Taiwan’s two major carriers — China Airlines and EVA Airways — said late on Thursday that their cross-strait regular and additional flights have been almost fully booked, with factor loads exceeding 95 percent. Flights from China’s Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou are all fully booked, airline officials said.
However, more than 64,000 people who are serving time behind bars cannot vote because prison inmates are not allowed to exercise their voting rights.