Taiwanese polls do not reflect real public opinion

By Li Jiaquan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, August 2, 2011
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Since Taiwan is a society with many elections, it organizes a number of opinion polls each year. But it is worth discussing whether such polls reflect people's real opinion and how parties running for elections deal with their results.

Do Taiwanese polls reflect real public opinion? They can because they usually reflect the voters' real intentions. Ma Ying-jeou's election in 2008 reflected public opinion, and the polls then conformed to that opinion.

TVBS Opinion Poll on 2012 Tanwai election 

But Taiwan polls might not always conform to people's true opinions. Many polls are often designed to serve various elections and might be manipulated. Poll results are often focused more on immediate interests than public interest, especially the public's long term and fundamental interests.

When polls reflect people's opinion, they help to build social harmony. But when they do not, they could hurt social harmony.

After Chen Shui-bian was jailed for corruption, Tsai Ing-wen succeeded him as the chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). As the DPP and the blue camp are eager for changes, Tsai's gentle appearance gives many people illusions and expectations. Opinion polls showed that she had won great popularity.

Tsai has been endorsed as one of the DPP candidates for the 2012 Taiwan leader election. Former Taiwanese leaders Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian both showed their support for her.

But many people worry that Tsai only gives people an illusion and that she is a true separatist. If she took power, cross-Strait relations would be greatly affected.

So how will the two biggest Taiwan parties, the Kuomintang (KMT) and the DPP, deal with the slew of opinion polls that will measure each step along the way?

Various opinion polls on cross-Strait relations and the future of Taiwan over the past 10 years have shown the number of people supporting unification is declining while the number of people supporting independence is increasing. But what do these opinion polls really signify? The polls revealed the weakness of the KMT's pro-unification group and the arrogance of the DPP's pro-independence group.

People hope the KMT could correctly deal with various historic and contemporary problems and lead the Taiwanese people on the right path instead of simply following the results of the opinion polls.

"The mainland and Taiwan can have disagreements on their political system and ideology, but they cannot lose their love for the big Chinese family," said Song Donglun, a Taiwanese political critic.

As for the DPP, people also hope it will turn into a good party in Taiwan and stop misguiding the Taiwanese people. Its "Taiwanese independence constitution" was wrong in direction, and its later alteration did not change its essence. Recently, Tsai Ing-wen's new statement on the cross-Strait relations has not changed her pro-independence stance.

The DPP's conduct will surely lead to conflict and political instability and trigger infighting between China and its foreign interlocutors. It runs counter to the real public opinion of the Taiwan people. What Taiwan people really want is peace, stability and development.

Li Jiaquan is a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(This article is published in Chinese and translated by Zhang Ming'ai.)

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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