( AP )- Taiwan went to the polls Saturday to elect a new parliament in a poll seen as a crucial indicator of the March presidential elections.
Some 17 million Taiwanese are eligible to vote for 113 members of parliament using a new electoral system that allows them to vote for both individual candidates and the political parties of their choice.
In the past, voters were given only one choice of candidate only.
Turnout was estimated to be moderate at around 50 per cent, lower than the 60 per cent in the parliamentary polls four years ago due to public resentment of longtime party-political bickering between the ruling and opposition blocs, election experts said.
The main opposition Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), is widely expected to win at least 60 per cent of the seats, the experts said.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is expected to suffer a defeat in the polls, taking no more than 40 per cent of the seats due to declining support in the past year.
"This is due to the weak economic performance and corrupt image of the DPP government," political commentator Hu Chung- hsin said.
President Chen Shui-bian of the independence-leaning DPP has come under pressure to step down over a string of graft scandals linking him, his family and government, but managed to survive.
In 2004, the DPP captured 89 of the then 225-seat parliament, 10 seats more than the KMT. But the KMT forged an alliance with the People First Party (PFP) to obtain a slim majority in parliament.
A total of 12 parties have fielded 427 candidates.
Polls open at 8 am (0000 GMT) and close at 4 pm (0800 GMT). Results are expected by 10 pm (1400 GMT).