TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Four referendums planned for December are likely to turn out in defeats for the government of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), according to an opinion poll published Tuesday (Oct. 26).
The four-question plebiscite was originally scheduled for Aug. 28, but the Central Election Commission (CEC) postponed the vote to Dec. 18 due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recall vote targeting Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP) legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) originally planned for the same day as the referendums was delayed until last Saturday (Oct. 23). Chen eventually lost the recall vote.
According to the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation (TPOF) survey, the referendum calling for a ban on the import of pork containing residues of the leanness drug ractopamine faced the highest support level. A total of 68.1% of poll respondents backed the ban, even though the government already liberalized the import last year, website Newtalk reported. The change was mainly seen as a trade concession favoring the United States, though Taiwan implemented strict regulations to protect the local hog farming sector.
A majority of 57.4% agreed with the referendum proposal that referendums should preferably be held on the same day as elections in order to encourage participation. Opponents of the measure numbered 34.2% if the vote were held tomorrow, the TPOF survey found.
A referendum about the protection of an algal reef on the coast of Taoyuan City in opposition to plans for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving station also received support, with 47.7% for and 29.6% against.
The only referendum question where supporters and opponents almost showed equal numbers concerned a revival of the abandoned plan for a fourth nuclear plant in New Taipei City. For decades, governments went back and forth on the issue amid massive protests contesting the safety of a new nuclear power plant in a country frequently hit by earthquakes.
The Tsai administration declared 2025 as the year to end Taiwan’s status as a nuclear country, but the latest poll saw 46.7% in favor of the Kuomintang (KMT) proposal to revive the power plant on the north coast, while 41.7% still opposed the project.
The TPOF said that if the results of its polls turned out to be true in December, they would have the impact of “a meteor hitting Earth” for the government.