Vote count under way, with results expected in a few hours after high expected turnout.
Taipei, Taiwan – Voters have cast their ballots in Taiwan’s closely watched presidential and parliamentary elections, with initial results showing the candidate of the ruling party taking a commanding lead.
The presidential vote is a surprising three-way race between incumbent Vice President William Lai Ching-te from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
With more than half the votes counted, Lai had a comfortable lead over his two rivals, according to Taiwanese media.
Also at stake is the makeup of Taiwan’s 113-person unicameral legislature, voted in based on geographic constituency and a second list based on a party’s proportion of votes.
In the last election, the DPP snuck through with a legislative majority, but their victory is far from certain this time thanks to competition from the KMT and TPP in many local races.
Some 19.5 million people were eligible to vote aged 20 and over, and voter turnout is expected to be high based on public transit data.
Taiwanese are required to return to the location of their household registration – typically their hometown – to vote in person, which means the leadup to elections can be a busy time for the island-wide rail service.
It was a surprise turnaround for what has been a relatively lacklustre campaign season focused on domestic issues, according to Brian Hioe, a frequent commentator on Taiwanese politics and founder of New Bloom Magazine.
On Friday, Taiwan Railway Administration predicted a record 758,000 tickets in sales – higher than any previous election.