By Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – People First Party Chairman James Soong fell far behind Kuomintang presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu in a poll released by the Apple Daily Wednesday, though Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen maintained a commanding lead.
On Tuesday, independent Shih Ming-te announced he was giving up an attempt to run in the January 16 presidential election because he found it impossible to collect the necessary 269,000 endorsements.
If the election were held Thursday, Tsai would receive 44.18 percent of the vote, a significant jump from 35.67 percent in an Apple Daily poll one month earlier, the newspaper reported.
Hung only dropped slightly more than 1 percent over the past month, from 29.68 percent to 28.49 percent. During the period, she retreated from public sight, giving fuel to rumors that she might give up or be replaced by the KMT. After a few days, she appeared in public again and resumed her campaign activities, denying all the rumors.
Soong was the biggest loser in the new Apple Daily poll, ending up with 14.6 percent, a drop of more than 10 percent compared to the 24.69 percent he received in August. Some observers attributed the slide to the alleged presence of a key Soong confidant in Beijing during the September 3 military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the World War II victory over Japan. The PFP said he had stayed away from the parade itself, but others alleged he stayed close by.
When turning to the political parties, the opposition DPP came out on top with 38.17 percent, with the KMT following in second place with 30.29 percent. Soong’s PFP would receive 8.12 percent, the New Power Party, a new group based on the student movement and close to the DPP, would receive 4.53 percent, and the Taiwan Solidarity Union 2.11 percent.
A legislative election will take place on the same day as the presidential vote, with the percentages important for the division of so-called at-large seats in the Legislature.