Taiwan ruling party faces crisis in 2020 legislative elections

Split of support among pan-green coalition threatens DPP majority in Legislative Yuan

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President Tsai Ing-wen (middle)(CNA photo)

President Tsai Ing-wen (middle)(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Recent polls suggest that voters may choose to “split their support” in Taiwan's 2020 general elections. Some voters have indicated their intention to cast their ballot for incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) while voting for legislators from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) or New Power Party (NPP), as 34 legislative seats will be determined through proportional representation.

The development has sounded an alarm for the DPP. If no single party is able to secure a majority of seats in the legislature, or if the opposition Kuomintang (KMT)-led blue camp manages to take control of the body, the country could face a political impasse for the next four years.

Tsai is leading KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) by a significant margin in polls, but in terms of the party list vote, the ruling party is trailing behind the KMT. And while the TPP and NPP appear to be preferable choices in the eyes of pan-green voters, the pan-blue coalition's People First Party and the New Party do not seem to be making inroads among KMT supporters.

The split of support stems largely from voters’ disenchantment with the ruling party. Over the past three years, many of the DPP's supporters have come to feel that it has failed in its administrative performance, forcing through unpopular legislation and sowing seeds of discontent. Although it came to power with a strong mandate, the Tsai administration has not delivered on its electoral promises.

In addition, aides to Tsai have become entangled in controversy, including the high-profile cigarette smuggling scandal, which dealt a blow to the credibility of her administration. Nevertheless, these disillusioned voters cannot bear to see Han elected, so they will still opt for Tsai in 2020.

It is foreseeable that the DPP will be fighting a hard battle in both the presidential and legislative elections. Even if Tsai does succeed in her bid for a second term, she is likely to find herself stuck in a conundrum defined by political turmoil and face difficulty in pushing through policies.