Thu, Sep 30, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Low PFP support reflects a mood

According to a opinion poll published by the China Times on Sept. 20, the People First Party (PFP) was given a public approval rating of only 25 percent. That was the lowest rating among the four major parties -- the PFP, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU). Even the TSU, although founded after the PFP, received a public approval rating of 31 percent. The DPP ranked first, with 42 percent. The KMT scored a mere 33 percent.

When it comes to the public's preference for candidates to lead the KMT, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) leads with a 37 percent support rating. The second highest support rating, 22.8 percent, went to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平). PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) only received the support of 5.8 percent of respondents.

Taiwanese opinion polls have never been reliable, and results are determined by political outlook. Polls performed by people in the pan-blue camp always predict great victory for the pan-blue camp. The same is true for the pan-green camp. The opinion polls preceding the presidential election earlier this year provide ample evidence of this situation.

The reason why so much importance has been placed on the China Times poll is that it is a blue-camp-leaning newspaper. Prior to the presidential election, all pan-blue-media outlets predicted a major victory for the ticket of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Soong. Only the final pre-election China Times poll showed that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) could win a narrow victory.

Soong has recently been very depressed as a result of this opinion poll, in particular as the more or less defunct New Party last week announced that it will participate in the year-end legislative elections under the KMT banner. Some people have attributed Soong's falling popularity to his fondness for political intrigues, and say that the main reason he was punished in the latest poll was that his personal plans have had a negative effect on the KMT-PFP merger.

So, will the KMT and PFP merge? And if they do merge, will Soong be one of the chiefs, or a secondary figure? Is this storm in a teacup in the pan-blue camp nothing more than finding excuses for future defeats? Looking at it from a national perspective, whether the KMT and the PFP merge or not, the flood of rejection that these two parties are facing won't be reversed. The results of the poll simply reflect the mood of society.

Both Lian and Soong are yesterday's news, but neither of them is willing to face up to the reality of their electoral defeat. Lien is still clinging to his position as KMT chairman and refuses to hand over power, and Soong has lost his grasp on public opinion, and continues to promote the PFP as a "Mainlanders" party, stubbornly resisting the formation of a new Taiwanese consciousness.

A person's viability as a politician is not determined by his age. Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who is over 80, continues to direct the growth of the TSU. He is an idol to many young Taiwanese, he's coolest avuncular figure and because he has always followed Taiwanese consciousness, he has move forward unobstructed.

It is not impossible for Soong to save himself. He could retire from politics and allow people to forget about him, or he and the PFP could embrace Taiwanese consciousness, for only in this way will the PFP be able to compete on the same foundation as the other parties. If Soong's only ambition is to fight over the votes of the pro-unification fundamentalists, then his political career is close to its end.

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