All-out courtship in Taiwan's municipal elections

Outcome of Saturday's local polls is being seen as precursor to island's 2020 presidential vote

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Election fever is building up across Taiwan, where 20 million people will elect municipal representatives on Nov 24. In Kaohsiung, competition is keen. The outcome of the local polls are seen as a precursor to the 2020 presidential vote.
KAOHSIUNG:: Kuomintang’s Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Han Kuo-yu making the rounds on a campaign bus.
TAIPEI: Kuomintang's Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung shaking hands with a vendor at a market in Taipei. He is in a neck-and-neck race with the incumbent Ko. PHOTO: TEAM KP/FACEBOOK, TING SHOU-CHUNG/FACEBOOK
TAIPEI: Incumbent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (second from left) with his campaign team. He is seeking a second term in the Nov 24 municipal elections. The surgeon-turned-politician, an independent, is known for the trademark gesture of scratching his head.
TAICHUNG: Kuomintang's Taichung mayoral candidate Lu Shiow-yen, a former TV journalist and mother of two, giving out roses ahead of Mother's Day which fell on May 13 this year. Campaigning for Taiwan's municipal elections this Saturday began months ago. Although the island elected its first female president, Ms Tsai Ing-wen, in 2016, politics remains dominated by men. PHOTO: LIN CHIA-LUNG/FACEBOOK, LU SHIOW-YEN/FACEBOOK
TAICHUNG: Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung, a rising star in the Democratic Progressive Party, has been touted as a possible candidate for the 2020 presidential race. Taichung recently overtook Kaohsiung as Taiwan's second most populous city. PHOTO: LIN CHIA-LUNG/FACEBOOK, LU SHIOW-YEN/FACEBOOK
Among the issues in play is whether the island's athletes should compete as ''Taiwan'' and not ''Chinese Taipei''. This will be decided in a controversial referendum. The International Olympic Committee has warned Taiwan it could lose its right to compete if the island tries to change its name for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
NEW TAIPEI CITY: Kuomintang candidate Hou You-yi with supporters at a rally. He is running for mayor in the closely watched race in New Taipei City.
NEW TAIPEI CITY: Taiwan Premier Lai Ching-te with Democratic Progressive Party heavyweight Su Tseng- chang (giving the thumbsup sign), a former premier. The 71-year-old Mr Su is running for mayor in New Taipei City. PHOTO: SU TSENG-CHANG/FACEBOOK, HOU YOU-YI/FACEBOOK
Kaohsiung mayoral hopeful Chu Mei-feng, an independent, with her candidate number. Ms Chu is best known for a 2001 sex scandal in which she was filmed having sex with a married lover.
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Taipei-based doctoral student Lin Chia-wei, 38, will travel 360km to her home town of Kaohsiung this weekend to choose the southern city's next mayor.

"I'll vote for Chen Chi-mai of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), because I think they have done a good job in running Kaohsiung," said Ms Lin, referring to Taiwan's ruling party which has governed the city since 1998.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2018, with the headline All-out courtship in Taiwan's mega 'nine-in-one' elections. Subscribe