Support for the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) has for the first time overtaken the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), making it the nation’s second-largest political force, the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation said yesterday, as it released the results of its latest public opinion survey.
The foundation’s survey on political support and the referendums in December found that 17.6 percent support the TPP, compared with 16.2 percent for the KMT, a lead of 1.4 percentage points and the highest ever recorded for the party.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held firm at the top at 27.1 percent, although a close 26.6 percent of respondents declined to choose any party.
Meanwhile, 4.8 percent chose the New Power Party (NPP), 4.3 percent supported the Taiwan Statebuilding Party and 2 percent chose other parties, while the remaining 1.4 percent either did not know or declined to answer.
The most striking result is the TPP “overtaking the KMT at the bend” to become the country’s second-largest party for the first time, foundation chairman Michael You (游盈隆) said.
Also worth noting is the record support for the Taiwan Statebuilding Party on the eve of the recall vote of its sole legislator, Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟), You said.
The results also mark a “dramatic shift” from last month’s poll, with the DPP and KMT recording sharp declines and minor parties seeing boosts, he said.
More specifically, the DPP and the KMT lost 3 and 3.1 percentage points respectively, while the TPP gained 4.3 percentage points, the NPP added 1.8 percentage points and support for the Taiwan Statebuilding Party increased by 1.9 percentage points.
The number of moderates also dropped by 3.1 percentage points, although whether the results are indicative of a changing political landscape has yet to be seen, You said.
When the TPP was founded, it only enjoyed 8.1 percent support, but it has more than doubled that, he said.
Whether it can maintain its newfound popularity is a question that should not be taken lightly, especially as its chairman, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), eyes the presidency in 2024, he added.
Meanwhile, the KMT has found itself stuck in a prolonged slump ever since last year’s presidential and legislative elections, You said.
Its current support is the third-lowest it has been over the past two years, and a 3 percentage point slump from last month in a blow for new KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), he added.
The survey, designed by You and executed by Focus Survey Research, was conducted from Monday to Wednesday last week.
Pollsters selected participants aged 20 or older via nationwide sampling of residential telephone numbers, collecting 1,075 valid samples with a margin of error of 2.99 percentage points.
Asked about the survey, TPP spokesperson Yang Bao-zheng (楊寶楨) said that public opinion is fickle and the party cannot be complacent after seeing figures representing only a moment.
She also called on the DPP to respond to public opinion, as “the people will turn on you if you turn your back on them.”
Brushing polls off as “reference material,” the KMT called attention to the discrepancy between the foundation’s figures and those gathered by the Election Study Center at National Chengchi University and other organizations.
It added that the poll was held before the successful Chen recall vote on Saturday, saying the political situation has changed significantly.
Additional reporting by Chen Yun and Shih Hsiao-kuang
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