Taiwan Quick Take: NPP tops youth poll, KMT at 2.99%

Depending on where you stand on the political spectrum, a poll held of 11,369 high school and university students was either very good news, middling news, or very, very dire news.  Of those students, it’s unclear how many of the college level students were of voting age, but a rough guess might be about half.  What’s important, though, is that this is the generation coming into voting age, and their preferences are radically different from their elders…and suggest they are paying attention to politics to judge by the number of smaller parties with little press coverage they chose (though it should be noted that social media and online forum PTT, not the press, are probably their main sources of information).  From Focus Taiwan:

The so-called “election” was held Dec. 26-29 by the National Students’ Union of Taiwan (NSUT) and co-organized by 35 colleges and universities

The poll included 2,775 high school students and was aimed at gauging young people’s views on politics, the upcoming Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections and the country’s future development, said Chen Yu-wei (陳佑維), a leader of the NSUT.

Among the total of 11,369 students who took part in the poll, 9,716, or 85.6 percent of the total, voted for Tsai, while Han received 534 votes, or 4.7 percent. People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) received 1,119 votes, or 10.8 percent of the total.

The presidential poll results aren’t much of a surprise on Tsai and Han, but Soong did reasonably well considering.

It’s the party polling that really astonishes:

In terms of party vote share, the small New Power Party received the majority of 3,054 votes, or 26.86 percent of the total, compared with 2,931 votes, or 25.78 percent, for the DPP. Coming in third was the tiny pro-independence Taiwan Radical Wings party, which received 2,752 votes, or 24.21 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), established in August by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), received 1,350 votes, or 11.87 percent of the total, while the KMT received only 341 votes, or 2.99 percent.

Even the minor Green Party Taiwan outperformed the KMT, garnering 454 votes.

The KMT got 2.99% of the vote, behind the NPP, DPP, Taiwan Statebuilding Party (Radical Wings being an older version of their name), the TPP and even the Green Party.  That bodes very, very badly for the KMT going forward.  Even if they pick up some support as those students age, it’s not likely to bring them back to major party status without some very significant and radical changes to the way the party operates and their ideology.  The KMT is ideologically hidebound and institutionally rigid, and change come hard to the party founded to overthrow the Manchurian Qing Dynasty in China.  Chair Wu Den-yih’s choice of a party list slate of almost entirely older men, many with strong pro-unification with China ideology means that those that get into the legislature will continue to turn off younger voters when they appear on the talk shows.  The one party list legislator from the last batch elected in 2016 at least had Jason Hsu–founder of TEDx Talks in Taipei, pro-marriage equality and a big proponent of blockchain–was dropped from the list this time.  In the directly elected districts, their candidates are also largely older, with few younger faces.  Wayne Chiang (蔣萬安), the handsome grandson of the KMT dictator Chiang Ching-kuo and great-grandson of dictator Chiang Kai-shek, being a notable exception–but he’s running neck in his Taipei district with another young, handsome DPP candidate in Enoch Wu (吳怡農).  If he loses, that will be a further big blow to the party going forward.  In short, Chairman Wu is not only stacking deck against his party with youth in this election, but also for the foreseeable future.

This poll was great news for several smaller parties.  The NPP coming out as the most popular is good news for them, as it suggests they may survive the loss of some prominent members amidst internal splits.  It was also especially great news for the Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP), which only barely missed beating out the DPP for second place.  This pro-independence party, unlike most other youth-oriented parties that rose up following the Sunflower Movement, is Kaohsiung-based.  They’re boldly running a candidate, Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟, also called 3Q) in Taichung against the Yen family of the Black faction, the patronage faction dominant in the area.

The news for the Green Party wasn’t too bad–they are clearly on the radar of some and beat the KMT–but still remain below 5%.

For the DPP the news was mixed.  In spite of pulling in some prominent Sunflower Movement luminaries like Lin Fei-fan, they were only polling in roughly the same band as the NPP and the TSP.  This suggests while they aren’t exciting the younger generation, they aren’t reviled as the KMT is either.

For a party founded by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, who famously rose to prominence in part with strong younger voter support, the TPP result at 11.87% support is probably a disappointment for them.  They’ve drawn in politicians from across the political spectrum, and have a younger slate than the two big parties, but these politicians are more coming from the KMT/PFP pan-blue side of the spectrum than the DPP pan-green side.  That may have cost them some credibility with younger voters, who strongly disapprove of the pro-unification political leanings of the pan-blue parties.

Image from the official Facebook page of the New Power Party.

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