RSS Feed

Tsai Ing-wen’s Presidential Pressure

Tsai Ing-wen, viewed as a rational leader known for her once-fractious political party, became Taiwan’s first female leader when she won the election by a landslide in January.

After taking office in May with more than two-thirds approval rating, her poll ratings started plummeting.

According to a Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation survey, Tsai’s approval rating fell from 70% in May to 56% in July. A Taiwan Indicators Survey Research poll indicated that it dropped to 45.5% in mid-August.

In September, 10,000 tourism industry workers flooded the streets, protesting that her government allowed arrivals from China to slip. About 110,000 people also recently demonstrated outside the presidential offices, expressing resistance to a pension reform plan that they feared would reduce their retirement benefits.

Expectations of Tsai are especially high at the moment, and they will be her first major political test. They could also affect ties with long-time rival China.

  • People of Taiwan expect Tsai to act more quickly and more decisively on issues they felt Ma Ying-jeou, her predecessor, failed to resolve.
  • Voters want Tsai to revive a barely growing half-trillion-dollar economy.
  • The people are concerned about their incomes and making improvements with Beijing on trade and investment links. Tourism, for example, has decreased from a record 3.4 million visits last year.

Tsai has been hard at work at attempting to revamp Taiwan’s economy by reducing reliance on its top trading partner, China. Taiwan would instead like to emphasize the rapidly growing markets of India and Southeast Asia.

Analysts say Tsai will face pressure to suggest new conditions for dialogue with China, which would mean rejecting any talks that cast Taiwan as an independent. And no new deals will be signed with China until Taiwan’s parliament passes a bill that gives the general public and legislators more say in the process.

Some fear Tsai may be too tangled in consensus building for strong or quick action. Others say we should wait and see.

“Whatever their affiliation, I think voters want President Tsai to be more consistent and appear less indecisive. But she’s served only less than four months of a four-year term, so it may be a little too early to rush to any judgments,” said Sean King, senior vice president of Park Strategies.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.