Wed, Jan 13, 2016 - Page 3 News List

ELECTIONS: Candidates going to great lengths to attract attention

AFP, TAIPEI

From rock concerts to Minions and free condoms, legislative candidates are going to great lengths to stand out in the nation’s tightest ever race for seats.

The vote for president on Saturday is grabbing the biggest headlines; but a record 556 hopefuls are also running to become legislators in the legislative elections which coincide with the presidential vote, with just 113 seats up for grabs.

The embattled Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) risks losing its legislative majority, with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hoping to reap the benefits, but 26 smaller parties, many of them new on the political scene, are also gunning for glory and are pulling out all the stops to garner attention.

Rocker and social activist Freddy Lim (林昶佐) of the newly formed New Power Party — which grew out of the student-led Sunflower movement that occupied the legislative in 2014 over the government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade agreement — wooed thousands of supporters when he sang on stage with his heavy metal band Chthonic at a free concert in Taipei last month.

Other candidates and their campaign teams have dressed as cartoon characters, or even stripped for attention.

Liu Shu-fang (劉淑芳), an independent candidate in southern Kaohsiung, removed her dress to expose a red bra at one event.

At other events, campaign teams appeared as Japanese cartoon characters, Hollywood animated movie Minions, and the messaging app Line’s rabbit and bear.

Candidates are also turning to free gifts and memorabilia to get their message across.

Lee Yen-jong (李晏榕), who is standing for the Green Party-Social Democratic Party Alliance, has been giving out free condoms in wrappers printed with her campaign information to promote safe sex.

This year also sees more niche parties trying their luck — the Peace Pigeon Union is campaigning to promote “peaceful land and sea pigeon racing as a legitimate entertainment” to dispel the stigma around the sport.

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