4 naturalized Swiss priests become first-time voters in Taiwan - Focus Taiwan

4 naturalized Swiss priests become first-time voters in Taiwan

Taipei, Nov. 24 (CNA) Four newly naturalized Swiss Catholic priests in Taitung, eastern Taiwan, became first-time voters in Taiwan as they voted in Saturday's nine-in-one local government elections and referendums.

Fathers Josef Eugster, Gottfried Vonwyl, Ernst Gassner and Augustin Buchel, whose average age is over 80 and who received their national identity cards last year for their roughly 50 years of devotion in Taiwan cast their votes for the first time.

Eugster, 78, drove from Changbin Township to the Bethlehem Mission Society in Taitung City, where he picked up his voting notification.

"It takes nearly six hours going on a round trip by car between Changbin and Taitung, 182 kilometers apart, but it's certainly worth it and I don't feel fatigued," said Eugster.

He added that he has been in Taiwan for 50 years and felt honored to be able to vote for the first time in Taiwan's democratic elections.

Vonwyl, 88, arrived at a polling station at National Taitung Senior Commercial Vocational School before the polls opened at 8 a.m. and became the first and the oldest voter at the station.

Gassner and Buchel, both 82, also cast their ballots.

All four priests had registered their domiciles at the Bethlehem Mission Society and cast their ballots at the same polling station.

"I thank the government for presenting the ID card to me last year, making me eligible to vote," Vonwyl said in Taiwanese.

"I am happy to express care for Taiwanese society and to be involved in solving social issues," he added.

Buchel for his part said he was honored but nervous about first-time voting in Taiwan, particularly for the referendums.

(By Tyson Lu and Evelyn Kao)


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