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September 24, 2017

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Flag row swayed over 11% of voters in elections: poll

TAIPEI -- Almost 12 percent of voters in Taiwan's legislative election were influenced in their decision by a recent controversy surrounding a teenage Taiwanese pop star who appeared on a TV show holding her country's national flag, according to a survey published Thursday.

The survey, commissioned by Taiwan Thinktank after the Jan. 16 elections, found that 11.9 percent of voters in the constituency legislative election were affected in their decision by the fact that Chou Tzu-yu, a 16-year-old member of the South Korean girl group Twice, had to apologize for waving Taiwan's national flag on a South Korean television program.

Meanwhile, 11.4 percent of voters said the incident played a part in their choice of parties to gain at-large legislative seats, according to the poll.

The issue stemmed from Chou's appearance on a South Korean TV show last year, in which she was shown holding the national flag of the Republic of China, and which resulted in her subsequent loss of a deal for the endorsement of a smartphone produced by the Chinese company Huawei.

Chou later issued an apology for carrying the flag, saying in a widely circulated video clip that "there is only one China ... I've always felt proud of being Chinese."

The think tank survey was conducted Jan. 17-18 to examine the effects of the incident on the legislative election but did not look at the impact on the presidential election, which was held the same day.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won 68 of the 113 legislative seats in the elections, gaining control of the Legislature for the first time.

Chou's Apology Contributed to DPP Gains

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) obtained 35 seats in the Legislature, while the New Power Party, established one year ago, won five seats, and the People First Party (PFP) secured three at-large legislative seats.

Lai I-chung, deputy executive director of the think tank, said the survey indicated that Chou's apology had contributed to the DPP's gains in the legislative election, as it highlighted the controversies surrounding the "one China" policy and the "1992 Consensus", which are both upheld by the KMT administration.

In the presidential election, the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen garnered 6.89 million votes, or 56.12 percent of the total number cast, while her opponents in the KMT and People First Party received 31.04 percent and 12.84 percent, respectively.

Lai said that in the legislative election, people did not vote consistently along party lines, as 27.7 percent of those who chose a KMT legislative candidate voted for Tsai.

49.1 Percent of the Electorate Wants Economic Development

Meanwhile, the survey found that 49.1 percent of the electorate wants Tsai to give top priority to the country's economic development when she takes office in May, while 26.9 percent wants her to focus first on boosting employment.

Food safety was seen as the most important issue by 25.2 percent, followed by long-term care of the elderly (21.0 percent) and relations across the Taiwan Strait (19.4 percent), the poll showed.

The survey was conducted among people 20 years and over and collected 1,089 valid samples. It had a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Taiwan Thinktank is chaired by Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung of the DPP.

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