Following Taiwan’s elections for city mayors and county magistrates Dec. 5, President Ma Ying-jeou’s approval rating dropped to 33 percent, while Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen hit 43 percent, her best-ever.and the pro-Taiwan Taiwan News:
In a “United Daily News” opinion poll conducted on the evening of Dec. 6, 44 percent of those surveyed felt the ruling Kuomintang had lost the elections, and gave poor administrative performance, inappropriate policies and dissatisfaction with President Ma as the three main reasons for the defeat.
In addition to the resounding defense of its administration of Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung Counties and the recovery of the "democratic oasis" of Yilan County, the DPP gained its highest vote share in city and county magistrate elections with 45.3 percent of the 4.1 million votes cast, just shy of the 45.9 percent received by the KMT less than two years after Ma had collected 60.5 percent of the votes in the same 17 cities and counties in the March 2008 presidential election.A non-factor in this election: Chen Shui-bian. Locking the man up was a clear political prosecution (yes, he's corrupt, but that's not why he's in jail) and a gross dereliction of his human rights. But fortunately for the DPP, it was a grave tactical error by the KMT. Not only did it openly display for the administration's foreign and domestic critics the true nature of its vengeful, authoritarian tastes, it also prevented Chen Shui-bian from indulging in his usual bombastic verbiage, prevented him drawing attention to himself instead of the election, prevented him from interfering in candidate selection and political activities, and in general, prevented him from being a monkey wrench in the DPP electoral process. Had the KMT been more thoughtful and less vengeful, its leadership might have let Chen out during the trial and appeals process. It might then have been a very different election with Chen Shui-bian running around making trouble for his party.
Besides fatally puncturing the myth of Ma's "Teflon" - like charisma, the results constituted a clear vote of "no confidence" in his KMT government's craven unilateral tilt toward the Chinese Communist Party - ruled PRC and the content of the KMT-CCP "reconciliation."
Notably, the crushing defeats suffered by KMT candidates in the agricultural three DPP - governed southern counties and the sharp jump in DPP support in highly-industrial Taoyuan County reflected the deep anxiety among Taiwan farmers, workers and small entrepreneurs over the blind rush by the Ma administration to sign the so-called "Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement" with Beijing under the misguided notion that even deeper integration with the high-risk PRC market is the panacea for the Taiwan economy.
Most voters in these districts sent Ma a stiff warning by endorsing a stronger DPP to balance the incompetence of the his KMT administration in the wake of rising unemployment rates and plunging wages, its clumsy and callous response to natural disasters such as the August 8 floods in the wake of Typhoon Morakot and its surrender of Taiwan's health security by agreeing to fully liberalize imports of risky beef products and "offals" from the United States in secret talks with Washington.
Ma now faces a grave dilemma over whether to persist in his unilateral and "black-box" China-centric cross-strait policy after his administration has suffered such a major blow to its legitimacy.
If Ma disregards the new expression of the Taiwan people's will as expected, voters in five special municipalities will have another chance to punish his KMT government next December in mayoral elections in Taipei City, the upgraded Taipei County and the merged metropolises of Kaohsiung, Tainan and Taichung, whose voters are generally more pro-DPP than the cities and counties involved in Saturday's polls.
A dual defeat in both Saturday's polls and the upcoming special municipal elections would cast a dark shadow over Ma's chances to secure a second term in the early 2012 presidential sweepstakes.
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