By Chen Wei-han / Staff reporter
The Democratic Progressive Party （DPP） administration has suffered a steep decline in approval ratings due to its handling of key labor legislation and increased Chinese military activity around Taiwan, according to a survey published by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation yesterday.
The DPP has experienced a steep decline in support, with only 23.4 percent of respondents expressing support for the party last month, down from 30.2 percent in September last year.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s （蔡英文） approval rating dropped by 2.7 percentage points from November to 35.9 percent last month, while her disapproval rating rose from 39.8 percent to 46.6 percent during the same period, the poll found.
Tsai’s average approval rating last year was 35.33 percent, lower than her predecessors, who averaged 51.65 percent in their first years in office, foundation chairman You Ying-lung （游盈隆） said.
Premier William Lai’s （賴清德） approval rating also fell by 12.3 percentage points from November to 47.4 percent last month, while his disapproval rating rose from 27.2 to 38.6 percent during the period.
Tsai and Lai both scored low on the “feeling thermometer,” which measures how respondents view politicians on a 0-100 scale, with 100 points reflecting the highest level of favorability, zero the lowest and 50 neutral feelings.
Tsai scored 46.94, a drastic decline from her highest score of 69.08 in May 2016 when she assumed office.
She is favored less than Chinese President Xi Jinping （習近平）, who scored 51.52 in a foundation survey in November, and Tsai’s score of 46.94 was only slightly higher than former president Ma Ying-jeou’s （馬英九） 41.64 points when he left office in May 2016.
Lai scored 54.24, down from 62.02 in October, while Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je （柯文哲） remained the most popular politician at 59.53 points.
The poll found that 49.1 percent of respondents approved of a Cabinet proposal to amend the Labor Standards Act （勞動基準法） to conditionally ease a requirement that caps the maximum number of consecutive working days at six, while 37.2 percent disapproved.
A proposal allowing employers to lower the minimum rest time between shifts from 11 hours to eight was approved by 55.5 percent of the respondents, while 32.7 percent disapproved.
The poll found that 53.1 percent of respondents agreed with the amendments in general, while 36.4 percent disagreed.
Only less than 20 percent of companies require raising the number of consecutive working days, but the amendment has prioritized the interests of those businesses over others’, National Chengchi University law professor Lin Chia-ho （林佳和） said.
“The policy has become a zero-sum game. A more delicate policymaking process should be enacted to rank policy options to achieve a win-win situation,” Lin said.
The poll found that 73.2 percent of respondents could not accept Chinese People Liberation Army （PLA） aircraft regularly flying around Taiwan, while 20.1 percent said it was acceptable.
Tsai’s lack of a strong response to Chinese military activity was unacceptable for 61.3 percent of the respondents, while 27.1 percent said it was acceptable.
“China is conducting a psychological warfare, but it accidentally creates consensus among Taiwanese” against foreign threat, Tamkang University Center of Advanced Technology executive director Su Tzu-yun （蘇紫雲） said.
Support for the Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） climbed from 18.9 percent in September to 21.4 percent last month.
Support for the New Power Party also climbed from 6.4 to 8.4 percent during the period.
The survey found that 47.4 percent of respondents disapproved of a Cabinet proposal to reduce taxes for people with an annual income of NT$10 million （US$335,030） or more from 45 to 40 percent, while 43.6 percent approved the proposal.
A Cabinet proposal to raise a corporate income tax from 17 to 20 percent was approved by 47.5 percent, but disapproved by 42 percent.
Another Cabinet proposal to nationalize irrigation associations and replace association elections with government appointments was disapproved by 50.6 percent of respondents, while 37.6 percent approved.
The survey was conducted on Monday and Tuesday last week and collected 1,085 valid samples. It has a margin of error of 2.98 percentage points.