Written by T.Y. Wang. Taiwan’s citizens will go to the polls on 11 January 2020 to elect their next president and members of parliament. Like previous elections, the shadow of China looms over the island’s politics. History, however, may have repeated itself as Beijing has revived the electoral prospects of a candidate it disapproves. The implications go beyond the island country’s upcoming presidential election.
Written by Winnie King. As recent polls suggest that Tsai will retain her role of president, many commentators point to the six month long (and counting) protests in Hong Kong, the 18-month long (and counting) trade war between the United States and Mainland China. We cannot however, ignore successful policies adopted during Tsai’s tenure as leader—most significantly her iteration of the New Southbound Policy (NSP)—and the contribution this has made towards diversifying Taiwan’s economy beyond that of cross-Strait relations.
Written by Jens Damm. I argue that Taiwanese society’s movement towards the acceptance of human rights as global values, multiculturalism, the rights of individuals etc. is intrinsically linked to the development of a Taiwanese identity (based what Habermas called a Verfassungspatriotismus) as used to assert Taiwan’s international status. Taiwanese LGBTQ rights could thus act as a signifier of Taiwan’s democratisation with the aim of achieving soft power and opposing any form of a ‘one China policy’.
Written by Chun-yi Lee. On 11 January 2020, Taiwanese voters will head to the ballot box and elect their next president. This short essay will explain why we should pay attention to this election and will particularly focus on Taiwan’s receding populism. My observation is that populism follows on from economic anxiety—a phenomenon that is faced by most democracies in Europe and the United States. Taiwan is no exception, but in January, Taiwan’s populist candidate will probably not be victorious.
Written by Hsin Hsin Chang and Ian Inkster. More globally and problematically, if the Hong Kong element should indeed serve to determine outcomes, then it may be seen as the leading non-western component of a general global trend to distraction capitalism, where democratic processes that should revolve around general and fundamental social and economic policies are squeezed out by rhetorical clamour focusing on personalities, external events and one overwhelming internalised but badly digested issue.
Written by J. Michael Cole. The Kuomintang (KMT) began 2019 a seemingly reinvigorated party following its successes in the previous November’s nationwide local elections. Epitomising this new energy was Han Kuo-yu, the candidate who had scored an unexpected victory against his opponent from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Kaohsiung, Chen Chi-mai. No sooner had Han assumed his seat as mayor of the southern port city than the “wave” that brought him into office elevated him to even greater heights.