President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday led the ruling party’s campaign in the north, in a final push to secure victory in tight races in key cities, including Taipei.
Tsai, chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), started her day with a stop in Hsinchu City before visiting Keelung in the afternoon. For the main election eve rallies, she joined other party leaders to drum up support first in Taoyuan, then in New Taipei City, and wrapped up the evening by stumping for Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung (陳時中).
In the final week of the nine-in-one elections, DPP leaders have focused on the close contests in key cities in the north, hoping to mobilize green-camp supporters and carry the momentum over to voting day today.
The party believes it has a good chance this year to win in Taipei, in addition to retaining its hold on the mayoral posts in Keelung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu City.
Tsai has linked the outcome of the elections to her leadership as president, who in the middle of her second term, continues to enjoy a high approval rating. She has also reminded the public how the election results might be perceived by the outside world.
At a major address this past week, Tsai called on the public to support DPP candidates, “so I can lead Taiwan in standing firm on the world stage, and maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
“The whole world is watching Taiwan, because it is not just about the local elections. It [the outcome of the elections] will decide what kind of message we send to the world,” she said.
“Only DPP candidates have presented a long-term vision and platform to improve the lives of Taiwanese... The party firmly believes in unity, and not division in society, for people to come together and strive forward as a nation,” she said.
Together with other party leaders, Tsai urged voters to change the nation’s political landscape, turning it more “green” at local levels, in cities and counties where the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has traditionally held sway, thereby sending a strong message to the world that Taiwanese are choosing democracy and freedom over pro-China political parties and candidates.
While acknowledging the burden that DPP candidates have to bear as representatives of the ruling party, Tsai touted the government’s success over the past three years in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving economic growth, while other countries faltered as the virus wreaked havoc with their economies.
The government’s pandemic response, headed by Chen, then the minister of health and welfare, together with the diligence and perseverance of the nation’s health workers, has received glowing reviews and endorsements from the international community, she said.
Tsai has spent more time campaigning for DPP candidates in the north, especially in Taipei, with the president saying Chen represents the party’s best chance to win the capital in 24 years, since former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) served as mayor from 1994 to 1998.
At the time, Chen Shui-bian eked out a narrow victory in a three-way race, with the pan-blue forces splitting their vote between the New Party’s Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) and the KMT’s Huang Ta-chou (黃大洲).
This year is another three-way race, with Chen Shih-chung facing the KMT’s Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) and independent candidate Vivian Huang (黃珊珊).
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday mainly campaigned for DPP candidates in central Taiwan, starting in Nantou County, then Changhua County and Taichung, where Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) is running against incumbent mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the KMT.
Lai wrapped up the day on stage with the DPP’s New Taipei City mayoral candidate Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍).
The president and Lai also stumped for candidates in three northern cities currently held by DPP mayors, but who can no longer run due to term limits. The candidates are Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) in Keelung, Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) in Taoyuan and Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹) in Hsinchu City.
DPP leaders are hoping to make history in KMT-dominated Miaoli County, with Hsu Ting-chen (徐定禎) mounting a good campaign against two pan-blue candidates.
Tsai Ing-wen and Lai have comparatively spent less time in southern Taiwan, where a majority of voters have traditionally supported the DPP.
The party is expected to retain the top offices in Kaohsiung, Tainan, Chiayi County and Pingtung County.
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