More and more likely we’ll elect a woman pres­i­dent in 2016

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

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.

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