TAIPEI: Cross-strait relations, housing justice, costs of living, road safety, mental health, and Taiwanese identity.
If there’s one thing to know about Taiwan’s youths, it’s that they care about many issues, like those listed above.
In the lead-up to Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections on Jan 13, political parties and candidates have campaigned hard for the youth vote.
They have made policy proposals aimed at making child rearing and housing more affordable, for instance, and engaged youths in dialogues at universities and other places.
Youths aged between 20 (Taiwan’s legal voting age) and 34 make up about one-fifth of the island’s 23.6 million population, but are seen as an important group.
Youths’ turnout at elections is typically lower than the rest of the population, but they turned up in force in 2020 with a showing of over 70 per cent. This helped President Tsai Ing-wen win a second term with a record total of 8.17 million votes – the highest since direct presidential elections began in 1996.
Mr Alvin Chang, managing director of the non-governmental organisation Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy, said the high youth turnout in 2020 was partly a response to events in Hong Kong that year – China’s sweeping national security law in response to anti-government protests there – and may not be repeated in 2024.
“Nowadays it’s become a trend (for candidates) to tell not only youngsters, but society, that ‘yes, I care about youths’ and come up with different youth policies”, he told CNA.
Politicians typically cite high rents or low salaries as difficulties faced by youths, said Mr Chang, 26.
But youths also care about environmental protection, energy, marriage and gender equality as well as lowering the legal voting age, among other topics, he said.
Whoever becomes Taiwan’s next president will need to communicate more with youths and the rest of the electorate, some young voters told CNA. Communication is crucial in the era of distrust and disinformation, Mr Chang added.
Here are what some youths told CNA about their lives, concerns and pet causes, and how these will influence their votes at the Jan 13 presidential election:
‘HOUSING PRICES ARE INSANE’
Henry Chien, 29, project manager at a company that makes rugged laptops
After getting his Master of Business Administration from the National Chengchi University five years ago, Mr Henry Chien joined a Taiwanese multinational tech company.
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