DPP approval rate plunges to near KMT level: survey

Taipei-Taiwan has seen a "dramatic change" in the political landscape since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to office in May 2016, with the party's approval down to 28 percent this month from 49.3 percent when it took power, a poll has found.

The DPP still has the most support of any political party but the gap between the party and the Kuomintang (KMT) has narrowed to just 4 percent, You Ying-lung (???), chairman of the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation, said at a press conference Sunday.

According to the survey, conducted between Jan. 21 to Jan. 23, 28 percent of respondents identified themselves with the DPP, 24 percent with the KMT, and 43.4 percent said they were not affiliated with any political party.

The popularity of the DPP has declined steadily since it took power. It stood at 51.6 percent in June 2016, about 32.7 percent ahead of the KMT's 18.9 percent, the survey found.

In the past 16 months, the percentage of respondents who see themselves as KMT supporters did not change much, but there has been a 12-percentage-point rise in unaffiliated respondents, reflecting "widespread disillusion and dissatisfaction among the public with both the KMT and the DPP," You said.

Wang To-far (???), professor of economics at National Taipei University, attributed the DPP's slump in party support to the administration's lackluster performance in pushing for economic reforms.

Although the country's economic growth of 2.6 percent in 2017 showed that the economy was on the upswing, the nation's economic over-reliance on China has made it vulnerable to Beijing's leverage, Wang argued.

The DPP came to office amid public expectations of drastic reforms in this area and on other economic fronts, "but it has followed the old path trodden by the KMT," Wang said.

He added that the fruits of economic growth have largely gone to the wealthy, resulting in wage stagnation and growing economic inequality, which has triggered public disappointment.

When respondents were asked about their personal finances, 62.2 percent viewed their situation as unchanged, 23 percent felt worse off and only 13 percent said they were better off.

Regarding cross-strait issues, the approval rate of President Tsai Ing-wen's (???) cross-strait policy fell to 30.8 percent, the lowest since her inauguration when 51.4 percent of the public expressed support for her policy.

Some 59.6 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with Tsai's cross-strait policy, the highest since she came to office, when dissatisfaction was at 39.7, the survey showed.

About a third (30.3 percent) of respondents saw Tsai as "moderate" in her approach to cross-strait issues, 23.3 percent described her approach as "hardline," 29.8 percent said her policy remained rather "soft," and 16.5 percent did not express an opinion.

Chien Hsi-chieh (???), a veteran social activist, said approval of Tsai's cross-strait policy has fallen in part because she has yet to set a "grand, overarching vision" that brings people around to her way of handling cross-strait relations.

It's safe to say that a majority of Taiwan's youth favors independence over unification with China, but most of them hold pessimistic views on the future and tend to believe that Taiwan will eventually be unified with China through peaceful means, Chien contended.

China has intensified its efforts to lure young people with preferential treatment and better jobs and prospects, but Taiwan's government has been unable to counter effectively, Chien said.

"As a result, we have seen a drop in public confidence in government as people don't see a future for their lives and for the nation," he said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel