The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is shifting the focus of its campaign for next year’s elections from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to its legislative nominees, said a DPP member who declined to be named.
Tsai’s approval rating has slowly climbed since May or June for two important reasons, the source said.
First, the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have strengthened Taiwanese’s opposition to Beijing’s “one country, two systems” model and their desire to maintain Taiwan’s democracy, the source said, adding that voters would prefer Tsai over the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), whose stance on the issue has been “vague.”
Second, even after Hon Hai Precision Industry Co founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) announced his withdrawal from the presidential race, concern and distrust among some KMT supporters over Han’s platform remained unsolved, increasing Tsai’s lead over Han in the polls, they said.
Gou quit the KMT on Sept. 12 and days later announced that he would not run for president as an independent.
However, these two factors “only dealt with the presidential vote,” and their influence has not entirely spread to the legislative election, the DPP member said.
People might vote for Tsai because of her position on Hong Kong, cross-strait relations and democracy in Taiwan, but vote for legislative candidates nominated by parties other than the DPP to “create a sort of balance,” they said, adding that the DPP has “not yet fully recovered” from its landslide losses in last year’s local elections.
“People will consider whether giving [Tsai] too much power will result in a repeat of last year’s situation,” they said.
When Tsai’s performance in the presidential race was unclear and even lagging, her supporters thought: “First, save the president,” the DPP source said.
However, if the KMT wins more than half the seats in the legislature on Jan. 11, the DPP would be “defenseless” against the KMT’s possible attempts to “hinder the defense of Taiwan’s democracy, the prevention of ‘red’ infiltration, the protection of internal reform and important budget proposals,” the source said.
If neither the DPP nor the KMT wins more than half the seats and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), led by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), becomes the “key minority” in the legislature, the TPP “might use its position as a bargaining chip and establish more ‘clear’ and ‘dark’ networks with Beijing,” the DPP member said.
Meanwhile, the DPP could drum up support for its legislative nominees by touting the administration’s achievements; better communicating how individual candidates have performed; using the rhetoric that supporting the DPP in the presidential, legislative and party ballots are “three indispensable steps to defending Taiwan’s democratic status quo”; uniting forces within society, different generations and the party; and avoiding making mistakes and responding to or handling emergency situations inappropriately, the source said.
“Previously, [the DPP] was saying ‘fight China, protect Taiwan,’” to help Tsai’s campaign, the source said.
Its next step, starting this month, is to appeal to the idea that “only a democratic-majority legislature can ensure the continuation of Taiwan’s democratic system,” the source said.
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