Poll highlights high level of political apathy in society
Ninety- nine percent of Taiwanese people have not called in during TV political talk shows, while 95 percent of them have not participated in protests within the past year, according to a recent poll, titled “The State of Social Participation,” conducted by the National Development Council ( NDC, ).
Asked about the surprising contrast between the results and the large number of protesters during last year’s Sunflower Movement, which took place from March 18 to April 10, an official of the NDC said that though the Sunflower Movement drew much public attention, the peak of rallies and demonstrations occurred in the years following the abolition of martial law.
The results reflect how times have changed — the widespread adoption of the Internet and various channels to voice their opinions have given the public more autonomy, and the media no longer dictate which issues are given attention, said the NDC official.
According to the official, each person might have a different understanding of what it means to “participate” in a demonstration. Some respondents might see themselves as merely “pass- ersby” or “onlookers,” so they do not think they were participants, said the official.
However, other categories in the poll also revealed that 15 percent of respondents have participated in community meetings and 45 percent have made donations to charity in the past year.
The poll was conducted from Aug. 11 to 12, with respondents limited to adults aged 20 or older from the “Taiwan region.” There were 1,077 valid samples, according to the NDC.
Political Activities Vs. Public Affairs
Democratic Progressive Party ( DPP) Legislator Tsai Chi- chang ( ) , said political apathy is a necessary development for a democratic society, but political activities should not be equated with public affairs, in an interview with local media.
According to Kuomintang ( KMT) Legislator Lin Yu- fang (
) , the results indicate society lacks a common goal to fight toward, as well as suggesting a sense of powerlessness in politics and economics. Echoing the remarks of Lin, DPP Legislator, Tuan Yi- kang ( ) said that as the public gradually comes to understand that elections alone cannot solve the problem, and that politics is not a panacea, it is natural that political enthusiasm wanes, said Tuan in an interview with local media.
Addressing the decline in call- in TV talk show engagement, Niu Tse- hsun ( ), a professor at the Chinese Culture University ( CCU, ), said too many shows have a set political ideology. Thus they descend into a state where they fail to make distinctions between right and wrong, and they throw around unfounded claims, said Niu. He sees these as factors that caused political talk shows to lose their sense of authority, as well as audiences at the center of the political spectrum, according to local media.