President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) approval rating remains at 33.5 percent, but Premier William Lai (賴清德) has regained his popularity following controversial labor law amendments, with an approval rating of more than 50 percent, according to the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation’s latest poll.
Tsai has an approval rating of 33.5 percent, an increase of 1.8 percentage points from January, and a disapproval rating of 47.1 percent, an increase of 0.4 percentage points from January, the foundation said yesterday.
Her approval rating has lingered below 39 percent since November last year, while her disapproval rating has remained at about 46 percent since December last year, indicating a “second crisis” for her administration, foundation chairman You Ying-lung (游盈隆) said.
The first crisis was a 10-month period starting in November 2016, which saw Tsai’s popularity wane due to unpopular policies such as pension reform and labor law changes, You said, adding that it remains to be seen how the Tsai administration will revive its popularity.
The poll found that while 32.6 percent of the respondents approved of Tsai’s handling of cross-strait affairs, 57.3 percent were dissatisfied.
Lai has an approval rating of 53 percent, an increase of 5.9 percentage points from January, and a disapproval rating of 31.7 percent, an increase of 4.6 percentage points from January, You said.
He has an approval rating of more than 50 percent across all age groups, indicating that his popularity has revived since the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) amendments passed in January, which had caused Lai to lose support among young voters, You said.
A Cabinet reshuffle announced last month, which saw the replacement of five ministers responsible for national defense, national security, foreign relations, cross-strait relations and labor affairs was viewed as helpful to improving government efficiency, according to 31.7 percent of the respondents, although 43.8 percent said the contrary.
Beijing’s 31 economic and employment incentives extended to Taiwanese were viewed as a “unification strategy that does no good to Taiwan,” according to 41.9 percent of the respondents, while 30.1 percent considered them to be a sign of Beijing’s “benevolence” that could help improve cross-strait relations.
Regarding national identity, 75.2 percent of the respondents said they were Taiwanese, 9.7 percent said they were Chinese, and 10.4 percent said they were both Taiwanese and Chinese.
While 38.3 percent of the respondents supported Taiwanese independence, 20.1 percent supported unification with China and 24.1 percent said that maintaining the “status quo” was preferable.
The percentage of Taiwanese independence supporters decreased from 51.2 percent in 2016 to 38.3 percent this month, according to the foundation’s surveys, indicating a “huge and unusual change” in how the public views its national identity, You said.
“It is huge because there are between 2 million and 3 million people who have shifted their support [for independence]. It is unusual because the phenomenon occurred during the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] administration, which supports independence,” You said.
While 49.5 percent of the respondents supported the proposal of holding an independence referendum next year to seek UN membership, 37 percent opposed it.
Regarding party preference, the DPP scored 47.11 on the “feeling thermometer,” which is a gauge from zero to 100, indicating that the public has a slightly negative impression of the party. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) scored 44.57.
The survey was conducted from Sunday to Tuesday last week and collected 1,072 valid samples with a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of 2.99 percentage points.
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