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Soong's participation hurts KMT presidential candidate: poll

2015/08/11 17:41:40

Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) The participation of People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) in the 2016 presidential election will most likely hurt ruling Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), a public opinion poll found Tuesday.

The results of a poll commissioned by the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum (台灣競爭力論壇) showed the race's front-runner, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), with 36 percent support, ahead of Hung's 26.9 percent and Soong's 15.5 percent.

When asked about Soong's impact on the race, 73.1 percent of respondents said Hung's support base will be eroded while 8.5 percent said he will draw votes away from Tsai's support base.

Forum president Thomas Peng (彭錦鵬) said that overall Soong will have the greatest impact on Hung.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (96.6 percent) said Soong's participation would make a Tsai victory more likely, compared with only 1.9 percent who felt his entry into the race made it more likely that Hung will win.

"This shows that Soong's participation will be more favorable to Tsai," Peng said.

Soong, a former KMT heavyweight, set up the People First Party after losing a run for president as an independent in 2000. In its early years, it eroded support from the KMT, winning 46 seats in the Legislature in the 2001 elections and 34 in the 2004 elections.

But once a first-past-the-post system was instituted in legislative races in 2008, smaller parties like the PFP lost most of their seats and have struggled to remain relevant since then.

In his run for president in 2012, Soong only managed to win 2.76 percent of the vote, compared with 51.60 percent for incumbent Ma Ying-jeou and 45.63 percent for Tsai.

The DPP had hoped Soong would split the pan-blue vote with Ma, but it did not happen.

With the KMT fielding a weaker candidate this time and the party struggling to recover from a huge loss in local elections in November 2014, Soong figures to have a far bigger role in the race this year, and some polls have put him ahead of Hung.

As for the popularity of political parties, 36.7 percent said they supported the KMT, 32.1 percent supported the DPP, only 2.2 percent supported the PFP, and 1.1 percent supported another minor party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

On how respondents saw Taiwan's future relative to China, 35.8 percent supported maintaining the status quo, 28.1 percent supported a permanent status quo, 15.1 percent favor maintaining the status quo before declaring independence and 11.1 percent backed maintaining the status quo before eventually unifying with China.

Asked if China is friendly to Taiwan, 47.4 percent said yes and 43.8 percent said no.

The poll was conducted by Trendgo Consultant Co. on Aug. 8 and 9 on the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum's behalf. The poll received 921 valid responses and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

(By Wen Kui-hsiang and Lilian Wu)