Written by John F. Copper. In July, Taiwan’s two main political parties, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT), held primaries to select their presidential candidates for the coming election. President Tsai Ing-wen won for the DPP. Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu will represent the KMT. At that juncture, pundits opined that January 11, 2020 would be a seminal event or “election of all times”. They said that the prevailing issue and one that cleaves Taiwan’s soul in half is independence versus unification. Clearly the two candidates mirrored the two sides of this seeming irreconcilable difference.
Written by Kharis Templeman. These are all signs of what political scientists call party system institutionalisation (PSI)—the degree to which interactions among significant political parties, including the issues they advocate for, their membership and bases of support, and the shares of the vote each wins, are stable across multiple election cycles. Is PSI good for democracy? In general: yes.
Written by Scott E. Simon. In the 2018 municipal elections, when Han emerged from the side-lines to become Kaohsiung’s first KMT mayor since 1998, his support was strongest in Indigenous mountain districts. Although he won a relatively modest 53.87% of votes overall, he won 85% of eligible votes in Namasia District, 89% in Taoyuan, and 92% in Maolin. How can we explain the Indigenous zeal for Han?
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. Ko has seized swing voters from the KMT’s pocket and pushed KMT to the far-right. The stronger this far-right narrative becomes, the greater the swing to pan-green votes. Thus, the weaker the KMT becomes, the more likely that Ko will join the race. The more Ko believes he will win, the more likely that pan-green voters will side with Tsai.
Written by Dongtao Qi. Since the DPP was trounced by the KMT in the November 2018 nine-in-one local elections, most public opinion polls found that compared to other possible presidential candidates, popular support for president Tsai in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election was consistently the lowest. However, about six months before the 2020 presidential election, many polls showed a surprising turn…
Written by Yu-tzung Chang. (…) Taiwanese parties have been “captured” and “marginalised”, gradually losing their vital functions such as political recruitment and aggregation of interests. Parties have become little more than support acts for politicians. The result will be increasingly fluid and polarised politics that has hidden dangers for Taiwan’s democracy.
Written by Jacques deLisle. Whoever holds the presidency in Taiwan after 20 May 2020 will need to navigate especially challenging relations with Washington and Beijing. Under Xi, Beijing has taken a tougher line, squeezing Taiwan’s international space, poaching its diplomatic partners, and chilling cross-Strait ties. It is not clear that China’s more demanding and assertive posture stems solely from dissatisfaction with Tsai, whose cross-Strait policy has emphasised stability and continuity.
Written by Mei-chuan Wei.
Given the unexpected scenarios in the KMT and DPP primary elections and the aforementioned complex factors that have always impacted upon Taiwan’s politics, the outcome of Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election is uncertain. Another uncertain element is Taipei City Mayor and former doctor at the prestigious National Taiwan University Hospital, Ko Wen-je.
Written by Timothy Rich. Han Kuo-yu surprised many observers with his victory in the Kaohsiung mayoral race in November, the clearest example last year of a Kuomintang (KMT) candidate faring above expectations in a south historically dominated by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). This “Han wave” now appears to have propelled Han as a viable presidential candidate for the January 2020 elections…
Written by Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw. Ma Ying-jeou’s two-term presidency between 2008 and 2016 represented a short window of laying Taiwanese society wide open to China’s United Front infiltrations before the election of Donald Trump in the US unveiled a new era referred to as the “New Cold War” or the “Cool War.”
Written by Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw. This strategy did work in the short run in terms of party competition. From 2000 to 2008, the DPP, despite playing as Team America B, found itself caught between two unfavourable situations. On the one hand, the KMT’s “Go West” advocates stirred up an avaricious “China craze” of United Front-driven bonuses, bribes, or subsidies handed out to people from all walks of life.
Written by Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw. While Taiwan is still in a state of limbo over who will win out among the candidates running for the presidency, the overall pattern of the 2020 election is becoming quite clear: it will be, for the first time, a battle between “Team America” and “Team China,” instead of the competition between Team America A and Team America B that appeared in the course of Taiwan’s democratisation in the 1990s.