“I don't want to be Hong Kong! It is very important that we stand up for our democracy and our freedom”. Jimmy Tsang, a student of 24 years at the National University of Taiwan, emphasizing each of his words by waving a green flag, the color of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairwoman Tsai Ing-Wen. While waiting for the leading taiwanese appear on your massive closing rally of the campaign before the election this Saturday in the island, other young people who listen to him, nodding with the head and waving of flags.
In these presidential and legislative elections is in the game, what the political course will continue to the island, a key piece on the chessboard of geopolitics, asia which China considers an inalienable part of its territory and that it has in Washington to its major military ally. And a group key to do so can result young people as Tsang: those under 30 years account for one-sixth of the electoral census, 3.1 million of the 19.3 million of voters. Of them, they are called to vote for the first time 1.8 million, those falling between 20 and 23 years old. A number enough to tip the scale toward one candidate or another, or to decide which party gets the 57 seats needed to become the majority. According to surveys, up to two-thirds of younger voters, such as Tsang, support Tsai in front of his main rival, Have Kuo-yu, of the conservative Kuomintang.
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The progressive agenda of the DPP and the president, that enforces measures such as the approval of homosexual marriage, it is more attractive among young people. And the message of the campaign Tsai, the defense of democracy and freedoms in front of a China on the rise, has been reinforced by the protests since this summer in Hong Kong against Beijing and in favor of democracy.
At his side, the proposals Have been and the Kuomintang of an approach to Beijing that serve to improve the economy seem to fall on deaf ears: “increased wealth is not the priority of young people. They are concerned about human rights, equality, the environment. Supporters Have been, are, above all, middle-aged people,” said the professor Chen Kuang-Hui, National University Chung Chen.
The young people of the island have been followed with avidity the events in Hong Kong. Like their peers in the autonomous territory, are increasingly less likely to identify with their ancestors are chinese and tend to be regarded as exclusively taiwanese, unlike the generation of their parents and their grandparents.
“In Hong Kong the Police shoot the people because the people do not want to obey what it says to China,” says Emily Lee, that your 20 years will be released this Saturday at the polls and has attended the rally of Tsai dressed in green, along with several classmates. “We don't want to be the following. We are lucky to have democracy and freedom, something that everyone wants, and we have to protect them. We are not China. We are a separate nation, distinct from China.”
it Is a message that the own Tsai has reiterated in his campaign and repeated in his rally, where each message of support to the former colony was received with applause and waving some flags in favour of the independence of Hong Kong. “The young people of Hong Kong have shown us with their blood and tears that the ‘one country, two systems’ (the principle which guarantees the former british colony's freedoms that do not exist in mainland China, and that Beijing offers to Taiwan) is not possible. Tomorrow, Saturday it is the turn of our young people in Taiwan, and to demonstrate that the value of democratic freedoms overcomes all obstacles”, harangued from the stage, between the enthusiasm of the tens of thousands of people present.
The president, who throughout the campaign has resorted to memes and videos to cultivate the new voters, appeared at the rally surrounded by young people, in a new nod to that segment of the population that is essential.
His rival, Han Kuo-yu, has also tried to appeal to the youth vote with promises of providing credit to start-ups and promote programs of student exchange. Although between the large -and very enthusiastic - audiences who attended his final meeting in Taipei, 24 hours before the of Tsai and in the same place, which abounded were the supporters of middle-aged up.
“Both parties have put a lot of interest in mobilizing their voters... especially the DPP, who is concerned for their younger voters. If you do not come out to vote, it is possible that you Have get a greater proportion in the final results,” says professor Chen.
The risk of abstention is always present in Taiwan, where the participation has tended to be lower from that achieved a maximum of 82% in the elections of the year 2000 and that in 2016 was around 66%. A contributing factor is the absence of the vote-by-mail, which requires the parties concerned to return to their places of origin to be able to deposit your ballot.
Chen points out another factor that may hinder the DPP its goal of mobilizing the youth vote: “we don't like to Have, but Tsai also drives them crazy. To them the DPP is a party of old, traditional, not very different from the Kuomintang. Prefer more games new, such as the People's Party, Taiwanese, or the Party of the New Power”. One of their political favorites is Freddy Lim, 43 years old and a singer in a group of death metal, whose party, the New Power, has allied itself with the DPP against Beijing.
The professor Pao Cheng-Hao, of the Tamkang University, agrees. Although in these elections, he says, it is likely that the vote young man to tilt to Tsai, this does not mean that these ballots is going to go to the DPP in the elections of the future. “The youth are waiting for someone they deem better,” he says.
even Though it is for electoral events in the future. Now, says Jimmy Tsang, “are more important than ever. We don't want China too close.”Updated Date: 10 January 2020, 21:00