Election Season in Taiwan

While the result of the midterm local nine-in-one election (as well as 10 referendums!) from last Saturday is still hot and heavy in Taiwan, non-Taiwanese that have visited the island for the past three months might have been confused by the scene. Sure, Taiwan can be a bit crazy and chaotic even on a normal day, but Taiwan during election season is something else! In today’s blog post, Like It Formosa introduces you to the Five level of behaviors that political candidates do in Taiwan to show how much they care about the people and the city - and of course, to win the election!

1. Lurking Flags and Posters

For starters, visitors in Taiwan will notice posters, flags and portraits of local candidates everywhere in the island, from city to rural areas. Some even say it looks like a big sale for politicians! With their slogans and faces following you wherever you go, potential voters are guaranteed to remember who is running for the seat - whether they like it or not!

2. Supplier of Ballpen / Tissue / Fan

Everyone loves free stuff, especially Taiwanese people!

In order to attract potential voters’ attention and interest, political candidates send out their minions to give out useful small items such as pen, tissue paper and fans for free - but of course, not without their leaflets! Such give-out is however bind by our law. If any candidate is to gift anything over the value of 30 NT, it counts as bribery!

(and there is a cash reward for anyone that reports them!)

3. Lingering Jingle Trucks + Theme Songs

One thing that visitors to Taiwan would see the most is possibly the trucks and scooters that play out loud music and slogans around the cities, which has become a unique traffic sight in Taiwan during our election season. Determined to speak up about their proposed policies (literally), many of them even have their own theme songs and music videos to make it all easier for you to memorize their stance on certain issues!

4. Idol Meetup

After the first three levels, potential voters are usually at this point quite familiar with the political candidates’ faces, representative party and proposed policy (if any) - at least, enough that they would recognize the candidate in person. This is when you will start seeing them in everyday scenarios such as weddings, funerals and school ceremonies. Don’t worry even if you come across someone you don’t support - they are usually quite harmless as long as you let them shake your hands!

5. Campaign Rally / Concert Party

Lastly, for the highest and final level, the most popular candidates will be hosting campaign rallies when the election is soon approaching. The campaign rally is well-loved by everyone as it provides a reason for potential voters to enjoy free music, food and stage performances. It also gives an opportunity for the candidate (the celebrity) to show how many supporters they actually have. Many of these campaign rallies are rumored to have gathered over tens of thousands of supporters (fans). This is also the reason why people often say politics in Taiwan is just like show business!

How many of the “Election Season Scenes” above did you observe during your trip to Taiwan? And do you know how the election and referendums had turned out? Well, that’s a story for another day!


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