‘Frozen Garlic!’ Taiwan Likes Its Democracy Loud and Proud

Huang Chen-yu strode onto an outdoor stage in a southern Taiwanese county, whooping and hollering as she roused the crowd of 20,000 into a joyous frenzy — to welcome a succession of politicians in matching jackets.

Taiwan is in the final days of its presidential election contest, and the big campaign rallies, with M.C.s like Ms. Huang, are boisterous, flashy spectacles — as if a variety show and a disco crashed into a candidate’s town hall meeting.

At the high point of the rally, the Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential candidate, Lai Ching-te, was introduced to the crowd in Chiayi, a county in southern Taiwan. Ms. Huang roared in Taiwanese, “Frozen garlic!”

The phrase “dongsuan” sounds like “get elected” and, yes, also like “frozen garlic.” Ms. Huang and another M.C. led the crowd of supporters, now on their feet, in a rapid-fire, call-and-response chant: “Lai Ching-te! Frozen garlic! Lai Ching-te! Frozen garlic!” Then they sped up: “Lai Ching-te! Lai Ching-te! Lai Ching-te! Frozen garlic! Frozen garlic! Frozen garlic!”

For Ms. Huang, the event, days before Taiwan’s election on Saturday, was one of at least 15 rallies she would have led by the end of this campaign season.

Lai Ching-te, the presidential candidate for the Democratic Progressive Party, at a campaign event in New Taipei City.

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