Taiwan election candidates canvass in final hours

Updated: 2012-01-13 05:59


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TAIPEI - The three candidates for Taiwan's leadership election used Thursday various means to rally support and win votes with less than two days remaining before the Jan 14 election.

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou, who is seeking a second term, met the electorate and seized the last chance in the morning to address crowds in New Taipei City, adjacent to Taipei. New Taipei City boasts the largest number of eligible voters of the island.

Ma, 61, who is also chairman of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), drove through streets thronged by large crowds of people, amid firecrackers set off in a show of support.

A supporter ran out of a shop and chanted "Dongsuan!" The slogan, widely used in the island's leadership campaign, means "to be elected" in local dialect. People also tried to shake hands with Ma while he was standing on an open vehicle.

Ma's vehicle could barely move in Huaxin Street because of enthusiastic crowds.

In the afternoon, he went to several communities in Taipei inhabited by families of veteran KMT soldiers who came to Taiwan in 1949 with Chiang Kai-shek when Chiang fled to the island after losing a civil war to the Communists.

He also walked the narrow alleys of a traditional Spring Festival shopping market and a night fair, talking and shaking hands with vendors and shoppers. Ma's arrival made the alleys packed with crowds.

Another candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, who represents the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party in the leadership election, stepped up her campaign in villages and towns in Taoyuan County in northern Taiwan, amid posters, banners and slogans. In the evening, the 55-year-old DPP chairwoman moved to Changhua and Taichung in central Taiwan to attend mass rallies.

Before her street canvassing, Tsai said the key to the final campaign is to consolidate votes, "drum up votes" and call for Taiwanese to return to their hometown to cast ballots. She expressed strong opposition to "vote buying" and firm confidence in being elected as the island's first female leader.

People First Party chairman and election candidate James Soong, 69, hit the street in New Taipei City and shook hands with market vendors, amid cheering of "Dongsuan!" and "Go for it!"

Taiwan's leadership and legislative election will begin at 8 am Saturday and end at 4 pm, with the final result announced in the evening. There are more than 18 million eligible voters.