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Followers of both ilk remain passionate over reasons to vote

Followers of both ilk remain passionate over reasons to vote
"I voted for Kuomintang this time because I believe, getting rid of the green party is the only sure way to secure my investments in China," said Lee Sheng-hsiong, 35, a Taiwanese businessman with interests in China.

"I admit, I did not vote to protect Taiwan. I voted to protect my livelihood," said Lee who believes a KMT victory will assuage the contentious relationship between Taiwan and China.

Though Lee's reason to vote might sound selfish, self-interest was seen as the common sentiment among voters and non-voters alike in the this year's county magistrate, county councilmen, and township governor's "3-in-1" election.

Nearly 66 percent of eligible voters "stamped" for their favorite candidates yesterday, while the rest showed their indifference by staying away from voting booths.

Hsu Jie-ming, 55, a housewife from Danshui also voted blue. In her opinion, Taiwan's economy has been stagnant over the past 5 years of DPP rule.

"In the last few years, I lost a lot of money in the stock market because DPP lawmakers have not fulfilled their promise of leading Taiwan to prosperity," said Hsu. "Who cares for party loyalty when people don't have money in their pockets?" she added.

Lai Kun-ming, 60, self-employed from Banciao, stood in line for half an hour this morning just to cast his ballot for the Democratic Progressive Party candidate. "For over half of a century, Taiwan was under oppressive KMT leadership. We need to give our own people a chance so we can prove to the world our ability to self-govern and that we are a bonafide democratic country," said Lai. "Even though the DPP has made mistakes, these can be considered growing pains. If we have a party change now, how will we ever fulfill our potential?"

Lai went on to say that those who criticized the DPP should compare Taiwan's democratic development to the United States' in the early days of its independence. "Even the world's superpower had to start from somewhere. Compared to the U.S. in its infancy, Taiwan has a head start," said Lai.

Some voters believed that if the KMT comes out on top in this election, it would jeopardize Taiwan's national security due to the KMT's amiable relationship with China. Tai Jiu-meng, a schoolteacher, claimed voting for the KMT is one more vote to surrendering Taiwan to a neighboring "menace."

"The DPP was born because our forefathers fought hard against the authoritarian government of the KMT. We can not afford to revert back to those days," said Tai.

"Step by step, the KMT is betraying all Taiwanese people. Just look at how many KMT leaders have brown-nosed the Beijing government over the past few years," said Tai.

Despite the efforts of many political heavyweights to mobilize the public into voting, many people choose to forgo their voting rights for an assortment of reasons.

A working mother, Lan Mei-hui, 35, shrugged at the choice for the Taipei County magistracy because "both candidates are equally bad."

"Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) has no backbone, instead endless scandals. On the other hand, I doubt Luo Wen-chia's (羅文嘉) phony sincerity. He is not even from Taipei County. If he really wanted to do something for the people for Taiwan, then he should have cleaned up his own county first," said Lan.

A medical school instructor and a Hualien native, Yu Jen-fang said his reason for not voting is because his ticket "won't make a difference" since DPP has been running a losing campaign from the start.

As a staunch but disappointed DPP faithful, Yu said, "This election means nothing to me. It was obvious that the pan-green camp would lose big. I am very frustrated with the incompetence of the candidates that I have lost my motivation to vote."

A taxi driver, Cheng Chin-long who chose not go back to his home county, Nantou to vote, blamed DPP for his predicament. "I am not voting today because I can not afford to take a day off to travel all the way home," said Cheng.

As a former DPP supporter, Cheng explained since the DPP takeover, his business had plummeted to the point that he cannot spare even one day to cast a ballot. "If I take today off, will the winner guarantee I will have food on the table tomorrow?"

As a last ditch to secure the election, DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) promised to quit his post if his party lost more than half of the counties up for grabs. However, as the outcome shows, even with the sympathy card, the pan-green party failed to woo the majority of voters.