President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval rate has fallen 12.5 percentage points, from 38.5 percent to 26 percent, over the past month, following the announcement of fuel and electricity price increases, a survey released yesterday showed.
Only 26 percent of respondents to a poll conducted by the Taiwan Thinktank said they were satisfied with Ma’s performance, while 62.5 percent said they were not happy.
The poll found that 44.1 percent of respondents said the “wrong president” had been elected in the Jan. 14 presidential election, but 43.5 percent did not agree, said Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), convener of the think tank’s law and politics program.
The results were consistent with surveys recently conducted by other institutions — with Ma’s approval rate dropping from 26.1 percent to 18.7 percent from last month to this month in a Taiwan Brain Trust poll.
In general, the Taiwan Thinktank survey results showed that most Taiwanese are not happy and suspicious about the direction in which Ma is taking the nation, saying that they find Ma’s character questionable, Hsu said.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the averaged score for well-being stood at 4.9, while 65.9 percent of respondents said national competitiveness had gone down in the past year, he said.
As for Ma’s second term in office, 77.6 percent of respondents said issues related to people’s daily lives should be the top priority, while 5.7 percent said cross-strait relations was the most important issue.
In particular, 59.4 percent said Ma was not an honest president and 41.6 percent said the country under the Ma administration was not on the right track, Hsu said.
About one in six, or 16.9 percent, of those who voted for Ma in January said they now regretted their decision.
“It appears that Ma is now experiencing the same situation as former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) did in his second term, when Chen’s integrity was questioned,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.
History shows that character is probably the most important asset of a leader, Lin said, and if a leader’s integrity is questioned, they need to be able to win back the people’s trust, regardless of their performance.
Lin said he was surprised at how quickly so-called swing voters have turned their backs on Ma, “abandoning” him in the space of a month, with those who disapproved of Ma’s performance outnumbering his supporters by 48 percent in the latest poll.
“Ma’s fall from grace in public opinion polls has been unprecedented,” Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) said. “The only thing that has changed since the last time Ma enjoyed high approval ratings is his victory in the presidential election ... Maybe he thought he could do anything he wanted after winning his second term.”
The Taiwan Thinktank poll collected 1,076 samples between Monday and Tuesday and it has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.