Taiwan Headlines, July 19: TPP closes in on KMT in polling

With level three lockdown still in place, Taiwan’s political news has been pretty quiet, so not a whole lot to discuss.

Let’s kick off with election law issues, which I touched on a lot in a couple of recent shows.
In the last one I speculated that the DPP was going to drag their feet on the bill allowing absentee referendum voting so that it wouldn’t take effect in time for December’s referendums.
The reason being that the DPP isn’t likely to give the KMT any help in boosting turnout.
Polling shows that the public is likely to vote with the KMT’s stance on these referendums–but getting a high enough turnout to pass the threshold will be the biggest challenge for the KMT.
It indeed now looks like the DPP will succeed in delaying the bill.
The Central Election Commission has also pushed back the date for the Chen Po-wei recall vote to October 28.
The KMT pushed for that to be held on the same date as the referendums, and is accusing them of being “nonsensical.”
The group organizing the recall campaign accused them of wasting taxpayer dollars by holding them separately.
The CEC defended itself, saying that holding the election and referendum simultaneously on Dec. 18 would “cause the referendum to lose focus,” adding that separating the two votes would ensure “the results are consistent with public opinion.”
Both the KMT and recall organizers and the CEC have valid points.
As to whether the CEC is acting in a partisan way to keep turnout low in both–which is a DPP priority–I can’t say.
Their point that both elections are about very different things is true–but then holding them together would indeed be more efficient.

There has been some excitement in certain quarters about recent polling.
The DPP has been losing significant support, which is hardly surprising considering the train disaster, the drought and the return of the pandemic.
What’s interesting, though, is that the KMT has also continued to lose support–and this pattern has been played out in enough polls that it looks to be accurate.
The latest poll by Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation found that support for the DPP is now at 22.5% and the KMT has slumped to 18.4%, which was an even bigger drop than for the DPP.
So, where have these supporters gone to?
Interestingly, not to the category ‘support no party’, which actually dropped noticeably between May and June, to reach 30.8%, an over 8% drop.
The biggest beneficiaries were the Taiwan People’s Party, which nearly doubled to reach 15.6%, the New Power Party which more than doubled to reach 6.3% and the Taiwan Statebuilding Party which also nearly doubled, reaching 3.5%.
That there is now less than 3% separating the TPP and the KMT has raised some of the excitement in various quarters.
It is interesting, and definitely keeping an eye on.
However, those numbers are a bit misleading–the only election held that people vote purely on party lines is the party list vote for the legislature.
The party list vote allows political parties who receive more than 5% of the party list vote to nominate legislator-at-large seats, which makes up roughly a third of the legislature.
This suggests that the TPP will continue to be able to form a legislative caucus if their support holds.
All of their current five seats in the legislature are from the last party list vote.
In other elections, however, the TPP has the disadvantage of not having anywhere near the extensive experience, contacts, infrastructure or candidates with name recognition that the KMT or DPP has.
Until those issues are addressed, they’ll continue to lag the major parties.
Still, they have been making quite a few moves which indicate they are aware of this and are working on it.
I doubt they’ll be able to outclass the KMT in 2022’s local elections, however, a fact they themselves admit.
They are aiming to win small handfuls of city and county councillor seats, usually the target being in the low single digits.
If they achieve those goals, which will be tough, then that opens up the possibility of building a pool of experienced politicians, which could set the stage for them to move up the food chain.
Definitely keep an eye on this when 2022 rolls around.

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