With less than 100 days to go until the Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections, the recent announcement by the Global Views Survey Research Center that it would no longer be conducting surveys on political issues has caused much debate.
The center announced on Tuesday that it would no longer conduct polls on elections or political issues because of a shift in corporate policy and the center’s director, Tai Li-an (戴立安), also resigned.
The center was founded in 2006 and thereafter it began a series of surveys, ranging from economic to political. The center’s surveys also included public opinion on the implementation of the government’s policies, as well as opinion on the nation’s various political parties.
In an interview on Wednesday with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), Tai said he was told on Tuesday that the center would be shifting roles and would no longer be conducting surveys on elections or political issues.
Tai said the announcement was rather abrupt and that it was the reason he had resigned.
Tai said he created the center in 2006 and that it was even acknowledged as a credible and neutral source in US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. He said the sudden announcement had caused him to feel nothing but regret.
In response to rumors that the announcement came after political pressure, Tai said he could not make a comment because of the uncertainty of the information, but he “believes that the upper echelons of the company have a more complete plan.”
Tai said he would officially leave his post at the end of this month after he finishes handing over his responsibilities to his successors, adding that he had made no plans with regard to what his next job would be.
According to data Tai has collected on the elections since Typhoon Morakot caused widespread flooding in 2009, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has a 4 to 6 percent lead over President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Analyzing the data with current conditions in mind, Tai said that there was still a 4 to 6 percent gap between the candidates.
In other words, both parties were trying to close a gap between 48 percent and 52 percent of votes, Tai said, adding that Tsai held the upper hand at the moment.
Because of the slim gap, Tai said he was worried that the cost of trying to change the outcome of the elections had decreased, adding that future elections would further challenge voters and the maturity of the campaigning parties.
Long years of tracking shows that the KMT’s support base is lower than 50 percent and with both parties almost neck-and-neck in the support ratings, it is shaping up to be a tough election for the party in power, Tai said.
Tai said surveys of neutral voters showed that they showed a higher degree of autonomy and their support for Tsai was on the high side, a situation that mirrored neutral voters’ support for Ma in the 2008 presidential election.
Because of the low satisfaction with Ma’s policy implementation that has been highlighted in the center’s surveys, some suspect that the “shifting role” of the center is the result of political pressure.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer