More and more likely we’ll elect a woman president in 2016
ATVBS poll published an astonishing straw poll last Thursday. It showed that if Hung Hsiu-chu, vice president of the Legislative Yuan and presidential primary candidate for the Kuomintang (KMT), faced Tsai Ing-wen, the standard bearer of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in the presidential election now, the former would trail the latter by a mere 1 percent.
The election is scheduled for next Jan. 16, but the ruling KMT has yet to nominate a candidate. Hung is the only candidate qualified to run in the KMT presidential primary on June 12 and 13. There are two straw polls, one to find out whether she is supported by KMT members as their standard bearer and the other to assess her odds against Tsai. If Hung’s voter support is below 30 percent in each of the two polls, the party’s all-powerful Central Standing Committee won’t nominate her, and will draft instead a leader likelier to defeat the chairwoman of the opposition party.
According to the TVBS phone survey, 33 percent of the 1,033 eligible voters polled on June 2 and 3 supported Hung as the candidate for president. The poll’s confidence level was 95 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Well, she crossed the 30-percent threshold of the KMT.
The TVBS poll found that if Hung were nominated and ran, she would garner 31 percent of the votes against the 32 percent of Tsai. A mere 2 percent of respondents said they would vote for independent presidential hopeful Shih Mingteh, a former DPP chairman who made a name for himself leading the March of One Million Redshirts in 2006 in an attempt to topple President Chen Shui-bian. The remaining 35 percent were undecided.
The result of the poll surprised all political pundits, but the most surprised must be none other than Hung herself and Tsai, who is coming back to Taipei from a 12-day American tour.
No wonder. The previous TVBS poll, published on May 21, showed her popularity ratings at 17 percent against Tsai’s 46 percent. In less than two weeks, Hung gained 14 percent, while Tsai lost just as much. The gap was narrowed from 29 percent to 1 percent.
Voters are as fickle as a feather in the wind. They may change their minds about whom they like to vote for in less than two weeks, of course. Hung’s strong showings in the latest polls might also be due to voters tired by the “royal court fights” between KMT heavyweights who wish to see a maverick. But the huge gain Hung had in popularity can’t be attributed to the caprice of voters alone.
The 67-year-old deputy speaker never fails to talk clearly about what she would do if she were elected. The younger politician Tsai always equivocates. That difference catapulted the quick catching up by Hung, known better for her nickname of “Little Red Pepper” because of her provocatively piquant opinions.
Hung proposed her principle of “one China” to replace the “1992 Consensus” as the modus vivendi for the ongoing peaceful development of relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Tsai, who rejects the modus vivendi, offers the maintenance of the status quo between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait as dictated by the United States. She does not clarify how she can do it, and has been questioned to explain clearly what kind of cross-strait status quo she would keep. During her visit to Washington, she offered to maintain the status quo in accordance with “the existing constitutional order.” It’s more gobbledygook from Tsai, nicknamed “Water Spinach” ( ) because her talk lacks substance like the hollow stem of the popular vegetable.
In sharp contrast, Hung’s “One China Principle” is unmistakably clear. She describes Taiwan and mainland China as “one nation with two political entities sharing the sovereignty” ( ), and insists that a peace accord be signed to end the Chinese Civil War. Her China policy basically is the same as President Ma Ying-jeou’s, except for her insistence on the conclusion of the peace accord that he promised in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election but reneged on after his election.
The two KMT polls will show results similar to those of the TVBS poll. Hung will have to be nominated. There will be no need for a draft, because the Little Red Pepper is the likeliest candidate to beat the Water Spinach. Hung still has seven months to continue improving her ratings. She may be the first female president of the Republic of China.