Debate on which factor played the most prominent role — from its supposedly “untrustworthy” China policy to “dirty tactics” by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) — in the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) loss in the presidential election on Saturday began within the party yesterday.
The DPP’s failure to present a clear China policy was why DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) lost by a surprisingly large margin to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), said DPP politicians, including several members of the DPP’s Central Standing Committee (CSC), Tsai’s campaign spokesperson, Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青), told reporters after a CSC meeting yesterday.
The party has not yet officially begun a complete review of the election as Tsai has promised, but some members called for a re-examination of the party’s China policy, which they said did not win people’s trust.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang--liang (蔡煌瑯) expressed the same concerns yesterday, saying the DPP had been labeled a party that was “anti-business, anti-businesspeople and anti-cross-strait exchanges” because of its refusal to recognize the so-called “1992 consensus.”
However, others said that some “technical issues” and the Chinese influence had a larger impact on the results.
Ma’s decision to combine the presidential and legislative elections and set the polling date one week before the Lunar New Year break could have prevented hundreds of thousands of people from voting, Hsu quoted several county commissioners and mayors in southern Taiwan as saying.
The officials said it was difficult for a large number of DPP supporters — most of whom are blue--collar workers who work in northern Taiwan, but are from the south — to go home in consecutive weeks to vote and for the Lunar New Year holiday because of transportation expenses, Hsu said.
University students, who finished their final exams on Friday, were not likely to have enough time to go home to vote, Hsu said, adding that Tsai enjoyed a comfortable lead over Ma among college students.
The local officials also said the judiciary’s inaction on widespread vote buying and Taiwanese business tycoons’ vocal support of the “1992 consensus” under Beijing’s pressure contributed to the outcome.
Another technical issue to consider, but which could not be blamed on the KMT, was the inaccuracy of the DPP’s internal surveys, which had hitherto been known for their accuracy, said a DPP official in charge of campaign advertisement and communication, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
“The DPP even failed to predict the voter turnout, which was an important factor in the outcome as well. That surprised me,” he said.
Voter turnout for Saturday’s presidential election was 74.38 percent, the lowest since the 2004 presidential poll. The DPP had predicted that the voter turnout would fall between 78 percent and 80 percent.