World

Taiwanese vote in municipal elections to gauge support for China-friendly ruling party

  • Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, center,  arrives at a polling station to cast his votes in the local elections including Taipei mayor in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Taiwan's relations with historic foe China are playing a key role in local elections on the self-ruled island Saturday as the ruling Nationalist Party meets increased resistance to forging stronger ties with Beijing. (AP Photo/Central News Agency)

    Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, center, arrives at a polling station to cast his votes in the local elections including Taipei mayor in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Taiwan's relations with historic foe China are playing a key role in local elections on the self-ruled island Saturday as the ruling Nationalist Party meets increased resistance to forging stronger ties with Beijing. (AP Photo/Central News Agency)  (The Associated Press)

  • Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou receives his ballots to cast his votes in the local elections including Taipei mayor in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Taiwan's relations with historic foe China are playing a key role in local elections on the self-ruled island Saturday as the ruling Nationalist Party meets increased resistance to forging stronger ties with Beijing. (AP Photo/Central News Agency, Pool)

    Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou receives his ballots to cast his votes in the local elections including Taipei mayor in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Taiwan's relations with historic foe China are playing a key role in local elections on the self-ruled island Saturday as the ruling Nationalist Party meets increased resistance to forging stronger ties with Beijing. (AP Photo/Central News Agency, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou exits the polling booth after preparing his votes in the local elections including Taipei mayor in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Taiwan's relations with historic foe China are playing a key role in local elections on the self-ruled island Saturday as the ruling Nationalist Party meets increased resistance to forging stronger ties with Beijing. (AP Photo/Central News Agency, Pool)

    Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou exits the polling booth after preparing his votes in the local elections including Taipei mayor in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Taiwan's relations with historic foe China are playing a key role in local elections on the self-ruled island Saturday as the ruling Nationalist Party meets increased resistance to forging stronger ties with Beijing. (AP Photo/Central News Agency, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Taiwanese are voting in local elections that will gauge the popularity of the ruling Nationalist Party as it meets resistance to forging stronger relations with historic foe China.

Voters on the island with a population of about 23 million will elect representatives Saturday to 11,130 local seats, including mayoral posts.

A poor showing for the Nationalists would make it easier for the rival Democratic Progressive Party to win the presidency in early 2016. Such an outcome is expected to disrupt negotiations with China on trade and investment deals that have lifted Taiwan's half-trillion-dollar economy while raising Beijing's hopes for political reunification.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since the civil war of the 1940s, keeping relations icy until Nationalist President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.