Taiwan votes in crucial elections

polls

Taiwan has voted in polls that could see the island elect its first female leader and set an uncertain course for future relations with China.

Results are expected at around 18:00 local time (10:00 GMT).

If Tsai Ing-wen leads her opposition Democratic Progressive Party to power, it will be a victory for Taiwan’s pro-independence camp.

Eric Chu stood for the ruling KMT, which oversaw improved ties with China.

China sees the island as a breakaway province – which it has threatened to take back by force if necessary – and is bound to be watching the election closely.

Saturday’s polls come just months after a historic meeting between the leaders of the two sides, the first in more than 60 years when outgoing Kuomintang (KMT) President Ma Ying-jeou met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in November for talks that were seen as largely symbolic.

But it is the flagging economy as well as Taiwan’s relationship with China that are the key issues for voters.