Does President Tsai Deserve Declining Approval Ratings?

The News Lens
Date: 2017/01/31
By: Timothy S. Rich

Taking stock of the DPP a year after it swept through the general election in Taiwan.

Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

A year has passed since the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) historic victory in the presidential and legislative elections. How should we evaluate their performance and what challenges lie ahead in 2017?

Media in Taiwan and abroad have pointed to Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) declining approval ratings as a sign that the high hope are already over. Taiwan Indicators Survey Research for example reports Tsai’s approval ratings have fallen from 70 percent in May, the month of her inauguration, to 45.5 percent in August. Other surveys since have shown approval rates largely in the 20s and 30s (see here, here, and here). What accounts for Tsai’s falling approval ratings?

Pundits will look for a simple cause that fits within a sound bite, but the truth is seldom so concise. Meanwhile, declining numbers fuel (Kuomintang) KMT hopes of electoral opportunities in the 2018 local elections and Chinese media has jumped at another opportunity to criticize the Tsai administration, claiming a buyer’s remorse among those that voted for the DPP. It helps to view this decline in a broader context. From the U.S. to France to Mexico, presidential approval rates commonly decline within months of taking office. Candidates frequently make campaign pledges that are difficult to implement once in office. Just as even the best hitter in baseball failed to get on base in even half of his at-bats, no administration, however well intended, will be able to meet all of its campaign pledges. The public also accrues greater information about the stances and actions of the president and the party over time.    [FULL  STORY]

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