Taiwan vote tests waters for pro-China govt ahead of presidential polls

TAIPEI - Taiwan goes to the polls on Saturday to choose city mayors and local Councillors in a vote that will show how much support the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) has lost with its pro-China stance less than two years before a presidential election.
The election will be the first chance for the island, which giant neighbor China views as a breakaway province, to make its views known since March when thousands of young people occupied parliament in an unprecedented protest against a planned trade pact calling for closer ties with Beijing.
A record 11,130 seats are up for grabs in municipalities, counties, townships and villages, with the key battleground the capital, a KMT, or Nationalist Party, stronghold for nearly 20 years.
Every Taiwan president was once the mayor of Taipei.
"This is the skirmish before the presidential battle," said Liu Shyh-fang, a senior member of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
"We have not had any chance to beat the KMT (in Taipei). Now it will be a little victory if Dr Ko can win," he said, referring to independent candidate Ko Wen-je, who is backed by the DPP.
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