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.
Written by Ann Heylen. Taiwan presidential election campaigning would be incomplete without language controversies. On 3 November during her Taichung ‘Chia-fen lectures’, Lee Chia-fen, spouse of KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu, spoke up in support of her husband’s vision of educational policy. Here we will examine some of the responses to these statements.
Written by Lara Momesso and Grace Lee. Never before have new residents been so important in the electoral campaign debate as in the last few years. Not only they are seen as potential voters by mainstream parties, but they also have organised collectively to support their favourite party in the electoral campaigns. More recently, new residents have stepped into politics by running for elections as candidates in legislative elections.
Written by Yu-chin Tseng. Immigration is an important issue. It forms a major component of election platforms and influences voting in many countries. In the UK, Brexit was heavily shaped by migration and border control issues. In the US, immigration policy is Donald Trump’s signature issue. In Germany, refugee, asylum and immigration topics have dominated politics since the opening of borders to refugees in 2015. However, these issues are still new to Taiwanese voters and were never core parts of party platforms in Taiwanese elections.
Written by Simona Grano. Energy provision and environmental issues have faded into the background since the beginning of the Hong Kong protests in June 2019. Candidates and parties have focused on new ways to deal with the ‘China Threat’, such as the DPP’s recent proposal to pass an anti-infiltration bill and the KMT’s counter-proposal of an anti-annexation act. According to a Greenpeace survey on the three main presidential candidates’ energy policies, none had presented any concrete plan to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions (…)
Written by Gunter Schubert. Taiwan’s upcoming national elections invoke the spectre of a new minority government: a parliament dominated by a ‘pan-blue’ majority set against a ‘green’ president. Taiwan has seen this before. During his eight years in office, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Chen Shui-bian faced a Legislative Yuan dominated by the Kuomintang (KMT) and People’s First Party (PFP), and so was effectively blocked from pushing through any meaningful policy. Given the polarisation of Taiwanese politics, a legislature and presidency split between the KMT and the DPP means political paralysis.
Written by John F. Copper. One month is still sufficient time for certain conditions to change. Members of the faux alliance cited above, Gou, Ko and Wang, might individually or as a group shift their stances to sincerely support Han’s campaign. This move would considerably bolster Han’s image and his voter support. An end to the protest movement in Hong Kong would have a similar affect, as Tsai’s campaign has capitalised on associated anti-China sentiment in Taiwan. Han’s campaign could also benefit if the US and China reach a trade deal agreement and consequently the US downgrades its happy stance towards Taiwan.
Written by Mark Weatherall and Kai-Ping Huang. In the 2016 legislative elections, the DPP won 68 out of 113 seats with 18 seats coming from the PR tier, securing a majority for the first time in its history. This time, however, the DPP is cautious about its prospects of retaining its legislative majority. If both the DPP and the KMT fail to achieve legislative majorities, small parties will once again play a critical role. Three small parties have a good chance of winning seats in the legislature through the PR tier: the People’s First Party (PFP), the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), and the New Power Party (NPP).
Written by Yu-Hua Chen. In January 2020 Taiwan will elect its president for the next four years. Incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen warned in an interview that “China’s attempt to meddle in this upcoming presidential election…is very obvious. We can see the shadow of Chinese meddling in every important election of Taiwan.” Although China denied the allegation, respectable research and reports provide evidence of how Beijing sways Taiwan’s elections and political processes.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. In Spring 2019, the political future did not look very rosy for Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. She had to fight a fierce internal presidential primary battle against challenger Lai Ching-te, while her likely Kuomintang (KMT) opponent, Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu, was riding high on his “blue wave” popularity.