President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has an approval rating of 56 percent, down 14 percentage points from May, while nearly 45 percent of respondents identified with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) — more than double the number of people who identify with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — according to the results of a poll by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation released yesterday.
Tsai’s approval rating was down by 12 percentage points from last month, while the percentage of people who said they were dissatisfied with her performance rose 12 percentage points from May to 21.1 percent, the poll showed.
The percentage of respondents who were “very satisfied” with Tsai’s performance dropped by 7.7 percentage points to 15.3 percent, foundation chairman You Ying-lung (游盈隆) said, adding that the rating drop was alarmingly large.
Former national policy adviser Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒) said the drop in approval ratings might be a correction of Tsai’s “ratings bubble,” as her previous ratings were inflated due to election campaigning.
Chinese Culture University politics professor Yang Tai-shun (楊泰順) said Tsai’s China policy, most notably her refusal to accept the so-called “1992 consensus,” was behind her falling ratings, because the public is concerned about a tense cross-strait relationship.
The poll also showed that 13.9 percent of respondents said they strongly identified with the DPP and 31 percent said they “mildly” identified with the DPP; 4.2 percent said they strongly identified with the KMT and 15.1 percent mildly identified with the KMT; and 31.4 percent of respondents said they were neutral.
“The number of people identifying with the DPP is more than double those identifying with the KMT, which suggests a large portion of voters have realigned their party affiliation,” You said. “Mainlanders [those who moved to Taiwan from China after 1945 and their descendants] were traditionally considered staunch KMT supporters, but many have shifted their support to the DPP.”
According to the foundation, 72 percent of Mainlanders said in a 2011 poll that they identified with the KMT, while only 11 percent identified with the DPP, but this year, only 29 percent said they identified with the KMT, while 23 percent said they identified with the DPP.
“That explains why the KMT experienced a crushing defeat in January’s presidential and legislative elections. The nation’s electorate has undergone a significant restructuring,” You said.
In terms of party preference, the poll showed that 30.4 percent of respondents said they preferred the DPP, 16 percent said they liked the KMT and 14.9 percent preferred the New Power Party (NPP), followed by the People First Party at 7 percent, the Taiwan Solidarity Union at 1.6 percent and the Green Party at 1.3 percent.
It remains to be seen whether the NPP will overtake the KMT as the nation’s second-most popular party, You said.
The DPP led other parties in terms of public image, as it was perceived as the party most able to represent the interests of Taiwanese, as well as being firm on reform and valuing human rights, but was also considered to be radical and violent, the poll showed.
“The most prominent image of the KMT is that it represents the interests of Chinese and rich people. While the public used to think of the KMT as the most economy-minded party, the poll showed that the DPP has overtaken the KMT in terms of economic development,” You said.
The poll, which collected 1,084 valid samples on Monday and Tuesday last week, has a margin of error of 2.98 percentage points.
Commenting on the survey, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said: “We will use all poll numbers as a reference. The new government will do its utmost to meet the public’s expectations.”
Additional reporting by Stacy Hsu
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