The presidential candidates of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) — New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) and TPP Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) — have been repeating the mantra that more than 60 percent of the public want a new party in government.
This is an obvious ploy to help the “divide and conquer” strategy that the “blue-white alliance” is working on to incite “down with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)” sentiment.
The idea that there is desire for a transition of power seems to have been invented, because opinion polls and media reports do not support it.
According to Internet searches since July, the idea was first thrown into the public arena by the KMT and the TPP.
Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation chairman Michael You (游盈隆) wrote on Facebook on July 31 that he was aware that a notion of changing the party in government was floating around, but that it was not backed by any data.
The idea could have been a deduction made from reading online surveys, You said.
However, online surveys — regardless of the calculation method used — generally have no way to accurately surmise what the public is thinking.
On Sept. 12, CNEWS published an online survey that asked: As the DPP has been in power for eight years, do you think there should be a change in next year’s election?
Of the respondents, 65.1 percent supported a change, with 39.7 percent “strongly agreeing” and 25.4 percent “somewhat agreeing.”
However, the survey’s accuracy is questionable. The distribution of the political affiliations of the respondents was plain as day and CNEWS claimed that while Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the DPP’s presidential candidate, was most favored, the combined support for the other three candidates surpassed him. Using that to say most favor a new party in power is a tenuous conclusion.
Chen Shih-kai (陳世凱), spokesman for Lai’s election campaign, on Nov. 1 said opposition parties claim that as support for Lai is 35 percent, the rest want the DPP to step down. By the same logic, with support for Hou and Ko at about 20 percent apiece, 80 percent would not want the KMT and the TPP to govern, he said.
The “transition of power” rumor was fabricated to favor the anti-DPP coalition.
What is remarkable about the CNEWS survey was that a cross analysis showed significant support for the campaign of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘), although more recent polling indicates that Gou might be a spent force.
However, if the anti-DPP coalition had been genuine about a strategy to unite, they should have been vying to enlist Gou and his supporters.
If Hou and Ko are betting that the “1+1=2 model” works for combining campaigns, they should be pulling out all the stops to establish a blue-white alliance, not dragging their heels.
This indicates that the idea of a groundswell for a change in governing party is propaganda — a meme favoring the alliance, with each side of it seeking to ally with their secondary enemy to bring down the DPP, their main rival.
This kind of manipulation is reminiscent of Chinese interference. It looks as if the KMT and the TPP are following China’s orders. Such “united front” tactics are among three tools that Beijing uses to overcome its enemies.
Taiwanese should be wary of specious rumors such as “60 percent want a new party in power.” Voters should take such notions with a pinch of salt and apply some critical thinking. They should prevent the TPP and the KMT, which are singing to China’s tune, from furthering their ill-intentioned agenda.
Chen Ching-kuen is an assistant professor.
Translated by Rita Wang
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