Public support for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and for Taiwan to become an independent nation are on the upswing, with Tsai predicted to win next year’s presidential election by 20 percentage points against Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), a survey conducted by the Taiwan New Constitution Foundation showed yesterday.
Tsai has boosted her approval rating and improved support for her re-election bid in the past few months, with the latest poll showing that she would win 51 percent of the vote against 31 percent for Han, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate, foundation executive director Lin Yi-cheng (林宜正) said.
If Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) throws his hat into the ring, Tsai would still win in the three-way race, garnering 41.9 percent of the vote against 25.7 percent for Han and 22.6 percent for Ko, the poll showed.
Tsai’s approval rating also rose to 43.7 percent, from 33.8 percent in the May survey, Lin said.
However, her disapproval rating remained high at 46.6 percent, albeit down 8.2 percentage points from 54.8 percent in the previous poll, Lin said.
The survey was conducted by telephone from Thursday to Saturday last week, with an effective sample size of 1,068 people aged 20 or older, Lin said.
Tsai has improved her voter support and approval rating, which meant that the damage from a “duty-free cigarette scandal” has receded, said Li Ming-juinn (李明峻), head of the foundation’s polling committee.
It was also partly due to a shift in public sentiment because of protests in Hong Kong against a proposed extradition law, Li added.
The upswing is also reflected in the large number of respondents agreeing that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation at 80.4 percent, the survey showed.
Asked about cross-strait relations, 56.1 percent of respondents preferred to maintain the “status quo,” while 31.5 percent wanted independence and 7.5 percent favored unification with China.
“When asked if the current status cannot be maintained, 67.8 percent of respondents chose independence for Taiwan, 18.6 percent opted for unification with China and 13.6 percent had no opinion,” Li said.
Foundation chairman Koo Kwang-min (辜寬敏) said he fully supports Tsai’s re-election, adding that he would try to convince former premier William Lai (賴清德) to join her to form a strong ticket for the Democratic Progressive Party.
Asked about the launch of the Formosa Alliance party and others that advocate independence, Koo said he disagreed with the move, adding that they are wasting talent and resources.
Koo also criticized Ko’s establishment of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).
“When a person’s lust for political power has surpassed what is good for the nation, then that is a severely wrongful deed,” he said.
“This TPP is Ko’s one-man party,” Lin said. “It was launched for Ko to stay warm, for him to find some way ahead in the political landscape.”
The foundation’s poll showed that the TPP does have significant support.
If voting is held now, the TPP would become the third-largest party with 15.5 percent of the vote, behind the DPP’s 30.5 percent and the KMT’s 27.2 percent.
The New Power Party would be fourth with 4.7 percent, the survey showed.
Looking at the mayor’s recent talks, Lin said that Ko was acting like an “Angry Bird.”
“If this man’s tricky ways and deceitful words can fool Taiwanese, then Ko would cause a huge catastrophe in Taiwanese politics,” he said.
Lin said he knew Ko very well, as he had served as a top organizer and adviser during Ko’s 2014 Taipei mayoral campaign.
“When the TPP was formed as Ko’s party on Tuesday, that was the party’s highest point. From that time on, the party’s bubble will burst and it will decline,” he said.
“If Ko enters the presidential race, I believe the TPP would receive 15 percent at most of the political party votes. If he does not join the race, it would get 10 percent at most. It is also likely that the TPP would not able to win any legislative seat in the elections next year,” Lin said.
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