Taiwan begins vote testing confidence in China-friendly ruling party

TAIPEI - Voters in Taiwan began trickling into polling stations early on Saturday in a local election that could show support for the ruling party, the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), is waning less than two years before a presidential election.
Saturday's poll is the first chance for the island, viewed as a breakaway province by giant neighbor China, to make known its views since March, when thousands of young people occupied parliament in an unprecedented protest against a planned trade pact calling for closer ties with Beijing.
"This (vote) will affect our economic prosperity," said one voter, Lin Gui-cheng, 60. He watched as a smiling President Ma Ying-jeou, who is also chairman of the KMT, walked into a polling station to mark a ballot-paper and cast his vote.
A record 11,130 seats are up for grabs in municipalities, counties, townships and villages, with the capital, Taipei, serving as a key battleground for the KMT, or Nationalist Party, whose stronghold it has been for nearly 20 years.
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