Majority supports referendum on trade agreement: survey

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 29, 2014 - Page 1

Most people favor resolving the ongoing dispute between the student activists occupying the legislative floor and the government over the cross-strait service trade agreement through a national referendum, a public opinion poll showed yesterday.

The poll, conducted by Taiwan Indicator Survey Research (TISR), showed that 74.2 percent of respondents backed holding a referendum to resolve the issue, 16.9 percent were against the idea and 8.9 percent did not give an answer.

Asked about the legislative deadlock over the pact, 35.4 percent of the 1,010 respondents agreed that the agreement should be sent back to the joint legislative committee for a line-by-line review, 23.5 percent called for interparty negotiations, 16.9 percent said the Executive Yuan should withdraw the proposed agreement and 15.4 percent gave no answer, according to the survey, which was conducted from Monday to Wednesday.

The escalating protests have dealt a blow to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), especially after the bloody crackdown on students on Sunday. Only 16.9 percent of respondents said Ma was trustworthy, while 69.4 percent said they did not trust the president, the poll showed. Both numbers were the worst for Ma since he took office in May 2008.

Meanwhile, Jiang’s disapproval rating of 65.5 percent was the highest in his 13 months in office.

Overall, most respondents supported the student movement, with 63 percent saying that the students, who have been occupying the Legislative Yuan since March 18, were “upholding the nation’s democratic values,” while 19.6 percent said they have jeopardized the democratic system.

More than half, or 54.9 percent, of respondents said the protest erupted because of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus’ violation of democratic principles.

Despite the high support for the students, 58.7 percent of respondents did not back the movement’s call for a national strike by students and workers. Only 29.1 percent supported the call.

Asked whether their view toward the agreement has changed because of the student protest, 35.2 percent said yes — 26.8 percent of whom said they switched from supporting the deal to opposing it.

Among the 38 percent who said their position was unchanged, 16.9 percent supported the pact, while 21.1 percent opposed it.