Growing discontent towards Taiwan’s ruling party over escalating tensions, sluggish economy

2 weeks ago 28

TAIPEI: A growing discontent towards Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over the slowing economy and escalating tensions with China could affect its chances at the upcoming local elections. 

Many of the DPP supporters appear to have switched their support to its main rival Kuomintang (KMT) and other parties ahead of Saturday’s (Nov 26) elections, according to polls. 

Taiwanese political opinion tracker DailyView has projected that the opposition KMT could win 15 out of the 22 mayoral and county magistrate seats, while the DPP could win just five.

TENSE CROSS-STRAITS TIES

This comes as cross-strait relations with China grow increasingly tense. 

In early August, China held its largest military exercises around Taiwan, following United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island. 

A recent poll found that the drills have made more than 70 per cent Taiwanese feel that the chances of a military confrontation across the strait have increased considerably. 

The DPP’s tactic of highlighting Beijing’s threat proved successful in the 2020 presidential race, when it won in a landslide.

But with escalating cross-strait tensions, observers believe such fiery rhetoric against China could turn voters off.

National Taiwan Normal University professor Chu Chao-hsiang said: “The drills have made the Taiwanese feel China’s military threat is real. Plus, there’s the bloody experience of the Ukraine war shown on television. It makes people wonder what Taiwan would be like if the same situation happens.”

Beijing has also imposed trade sanctions against some agricultural, fishery and bakery products from Taiwan, raising concerns among the public.

National Taiwan University professor Peng Jing-peng said: “China’s ban on agricultural and fishery imports is a big blow, especially to voters in central and southern Taiwan. This would also affect the way they vote.

TAIWAN’S SLUGGISH ECONOMY

The slowing economy is also on voters’ minds. 

At Huanhe South Road Integrated Market in central Taipei, for instance, vendors called on the government to put the people’s interests first, instead of the party’s priorities. 

One vendor said: “The key is to boost the economy, not just use empty slogans during the ele...

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