High voter turnout anticipated as voters head to polls with sense of ‘national doom’

Two supporters hold signs that read “go home to vote” and “for Taiwan” at a rally in Taipei on Thursday. (CNA)
Two supporters hold signs that read “go home to vote” and “for Taiwan” at a rally in Taipei on Thursday. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — An estimated 19 million Taiwanese will head to the polls tomorrow with a sense of desperation not seen before.

In the previous presidential election in 2016, voter turnout hit a new low at 66.27 percent, according to data compiled by the Central News Agency (CNA).

In fact, voter turnout has been in decline since it hit a record high at 82.69 percent in 2000, when, for the first time, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates had a winning chance against the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT).

DPP won by a mere 2.5 percent margin, leading to the country’s first power turnover.

This year, experts expect turnout to peak once again.

What’s driving the voters is a sense of urgency, a “now or never” kind of mindset.

The term “sense of national doom” has been circulating on social media for months now, especially among the younger generations and Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) supporters.

It shows fear incited by Hong Kong unrest and perhaps fueled by Tsai whose momentum is built largely upon her promise to resist China and protect Taiwan’s democracy.

Repeatedly seen in this election is the slogan “your vote is the one vote short”. It can be seen on more traditional pamphlets but more often on social media posts.

Many Facebook users added a special frame to their profile which reads “I’m going home to vote. What about you?”

Han’s supporters worry economic recession

The sense of urgency isn’t unique to Tsai’s voter base.

On the other end of the political spectrum, supporters of Tsai’s biggest rival Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) from the Kuomintang (KMT) have also shown a high dose of anxiety.

A survey conducted by READr, an online research and news publication found that Han’s supporters are most concerned about economic growth.

Tsai’s pension and labor reform infuriated many, in particular, members of the military who felt they were cheated by the government after putting their lives on the line during the Chinese Civil War.

Many of Han’s supporters worry that Tsai’s hard stance against China will continue to jeopardize the cross-strait relationship and economic growth.

Follow Mimi Hsin Hsuan Sun on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mimihhsun

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