Five things to know about President Tsai Ing-wen

Tsai Ing-wen urges supporters to vote at a rally in New Taipei City on Jan.1, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Current leader and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) who four years ago made international headlines for becoming Taiwan’s first female president is up for re-election.

President Tsai is highly favored by the younger generation, many of them were born and raised in Taiwan and have extremely loose ties to China. They identify as Taiwanese, not Chinese, which is opposite from most people from older generations.

For her supporters, Tsai represents the face of those striving to make a break from Beijing’s shadow and the hope of international recognition as a sovereign entity independent from the People’s Republic of China.

Recent unrest in Hong Kong helped boost momentum as it reminded voters of the underlying risk of autocracy of the One Country, Two Systems policy China has long offered to Taiwan. On an unprecedented scale, Taiwan’s students and expatriates are reportedly taking time off school and work to go home to vote.

Tsai Ing-wen delivers her New Year Speech on Jan. 1, 2020. (CNA)

Some even took the extra length and set up Facebook groups to help cover travel costs for those with financial difficulties, while others conducted interviews, made videos and other multimedia projects urging locals to vote.

Tsai’s more modern values are both cheered and booed by the people. Most noteworthy is her support for same-sex marriage, which, after more than two years of fervent debates and protests that drew a greater divide in the society, came into effect last year.

Her pension reform, however, sparked violent protests and led to one of the tipping points of her ratings. It played a partial role to an embarrassing defeat to the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) in local mayoral elections in November 2018 which costed her chairwomanship.