New Taiwan Poll Shows Ruling Party Leading After Alliance Fails

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan’s vice president is leading the first poll since China-friendly opposition parties failed in their last-ditch efforts to form an alliance aimed at winning the presidential election in January.

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Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party got the support of 34% of respondents in the survey conducted Nov. 24-26 by broadcaster TVBS that was released on Monday.

Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang was second with 31% and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party had 23%. The margin of error for the poll is 2.3 percentage points.

See: Taiwan Draws Clear US-Vs.-China Battle Lines in Key Election

A deal that Hou and Ko reached to run together fell apart on Nov. 23 over who would lead the ticket. Hou and senior KMT figures including former President Ma Ying-jeou walked out of an acrimonious media event that was called to broker a deal. Hou and Ko later announced running mates and officially registered to run as president on their own tickets.

The collapse of the alliance should improve Lai’s chances at victory by splitting the opposition vote between two candidates. An administration under the DPP, which has sought to strengthen Taiwan’s ties with the US and its allies as a counterweight to China, would further obstruct Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stated goal of bringing Taiwan under Beijing’s control.

China has said in the past it doesn’t interfere in Taiwan’s elections but on Monday it criticized Lai. Chen Binhua, a spokesman for the government department in Beijing that handles issues related to Taiwan, said in a statement that the people of the island should understand that a “Taiwan independence pursuer” such as the DPP candidate is a “troublemaker” and “war instigator.”

Lai has referred to himself as “political worker for Taiwanese independence.”

More: Taiwan Candidates Quarrel on Television as Unity Ticket Implodes

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and while it has pledged to seek peaceful unification, Beijing has also not ruled out the use of force.

A separate poll released Monday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation that was conducted Nov. 19-21 had Ko leading with the support of 31.9% of respondents. Lai came in with 29.2% and Hou 23.6%.

--With assistance from Jing Li.

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