Social welfare, crime and candidates' qualifications will be uppermost in voters' minds today. And for the first time since the introduction of Western-style balloting in the late 1980s, the charisma of candidates often matters more than the party they represent. 'Many candidates have used the same slogan - 'Pick the man you like best rather than choose a political party',' National Chengchi University political scientist Chen Yih-yan said. Professor Chen said that this time voters had far fewer positive feelings about the KMT and the DPP. He said that in counties or cities that had been administered by KMT or DPP politicians for several years or more, voters were seeking a change. The election is notable for the large number of candidates who have resigned from their parties after failing to secure nominations. Independent candidate for Taipei county Angela Chou Chuan, who left the New Party recently, said Taiwanese were fed up with the 'politics as usual' approach of the established parties. A former television anchorwoman, Ms Chou said the future belonged to a coalition of independents. Welfare for the elderly is among the many social-welfare issues that have dominated campaign debates. President Lee Teng-hui has successfully helped many KMT candidates score points by promising that after the elections, senior citizens would be eligible for a monthly subsidy of at least NT$5,000 (HK$1,185). Despite the recent arrest of self-confessed murderer Chen Chin-hsing, voters are concerned about worsening law and order. 'DPP candidates have continued to attack KMT counterparts for their alleged links with triad elements,' a newspaper commentator said. 'Fear of a worsening standard of living may prompt some people to stick with the ruling party,' the commentator added. Political analysts said a mark of the growing maturity of Taiwan politics was that candidates were much less interested in ideology. 'In the past, relations with the mainland were a big issue even in local-level elections,' the head of the Government Information Office, David Lee Ta-wei, said. He said DPP candidates had stopped highlighting 'tragic sentiments' such as their having been victimised by the authorities. But political analysts said the level of popular enthusiasm and participation was less than in the polls held four years ago.