Mon, Oct 15, 2012 - Page 8 News List

China factor key during elections

By Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) and Hung Yao-nan (洪耀南)

Then there were those for whom the issue was of general importance, who were satisfied with his performance, but for whom the issue was only a secondary factor in voting for him.

Finally there were those for whom cross-strait issues were a concern, but who were essentially green camp supporters, and who preferred not to vote because of the green camp’s stance on the cross-strait issues.

We found that the issue was a pressing factor for only 0.87 percent of the total number of people who voted; a significant factor for 3.83 percent of those who voted; and of some importance for 1.04 percent. We couldn’t find anyone in the final category.

As a proportion of the whole electorate, these four categories combined represent 773,000 people, or 5.75 percent of those who voted, very close to the percentage difference in votes between Ma and Tsai.

We also divided the electorate into four main categories according to the cross-strait economic issue.

The first was active economic voters, those for who the economy was a major factor, who supported Ma for his performance regarding cross-strait relations, who had benefited economically as a result of his policies, and who were worried a Tsai victory would be bad for Taiwan’s economy.

The second was those who were generally motivated by economic matters, whose support for Ma derived from his performance on cross-strait issues, who had not benefited from cross-strait economic matters, but who were concerned that a victory for Tsai would impact Taiwan’s economy.

Then there were the passive economic voters, who didn’t vote, who were unsatisfied with Ma’s performance, who did benefit from cross-strait trade, but who were concerned a Tsai victory would affect Taiwan’s economy.

Finally there were the quasi-economic voters, who voted for Tsai despite their concerns that her winning would affect the economy.

The percentage values for these categories were 0.81 percent; 3.43 percent, 0.01 percent and 2.80 percent, respectively. This gives a total of 7.05 percent.

Of these, 4.25 percent of those who voted supported Ma because of the cross-strait economic factor, and 0.01 percent decided not to vote — perhaps voting for Tsai instead — because of the economic factor.

As a result, even though 2.80 percent still voted for Tsai despite the economic factor, they might not vote for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in future elections.

Following the rapid deepening and expansion of cross-strait economic exchanges, cross-strait issues and economic issues have intersected, and the increasingly economic nature of the cross-strait issue has significantly changed the way in which the electorate perceives relations with China.

The number of people concerned exclusively with economic issues is now 73.9 percent of those purely concerned with cross-strait issues.

If we consider the impact on how economic voters will vote in future elections, economic voters represent 82.5 percent of voters concerned with cross-strait issues.

It is evident that the increasingly economic nature of cross-strait relations is a huge challenge that the DPP cannot afford to ignore.

That said, economic voters concerned about the cross-strait issue want the maintenance of stable ties and economic exchanges with China, but have not changed their national identification or the future they would choose for their country.

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