2020 Taiwan elections: battle of the generations

Elections interpreted in some quarters as clash between younger and older generations

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Supporters of Tsai Ing-wen 

Supporters of Tsai Ing-wen  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The 2020 general elections in Taiwan have been called a faceoff between the younger and older generations, with surveys showing that at least 50 percent of first-time voters were at odds with their parents over their favored candidate.

The youth population is considered to have leaned more towards pro-independence President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), while many of their parents tended to support Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, which favors closer ties with China.

The generational divide that has emerged from the elections boils down to a disparity in income, wealth, power, and cultural values, said Lin Thung-hong (林宗弘), fellow at Academia Sinica's Institute of Sociology, reported Liberty Times.

In a labor market marked by wage stagnation, it is young Taiwanese who are paying for the pension fund to support the retired population. This has made Tsai’s pension reform more appealing to them, but it is viewed as an anathema to their elders.

On the subject of wealth, Lin pointed out that neither the DPP nor the KMT has presented solutions to the soaring house prices. The two generations may also have contradictory views on the property market, as young people would like to see more social housing and reined-in real estate prices, while the senior demographic might fancy rising prices for properties they own.

Issues such as same-sex marriage and environmental protection have also proven to be sources of conflict between generations. In addition, the DPP has managed to play to sovereignty and gender among other issues, but the KMT seems to have adopted a strategy that put all their eggs in one basket by pandering to the elder population, Lin reckoned.