Written by Timothy Rich, Isabel Eliassen, Andi Dahmer and Carolyn Brueggemann. We ask to what extent has the public’s view on same-sex marriage changed in recent years and to what extent this influenced the 2020 election? The 2018 local elections clearly indicated a shift in the political saliency of the issue of same-sex marriage legislation over the past several years, while Tsai’s re-election with a continued Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative majority would suggest that opposition to the issue has declined in salience.
Written by John F. Copper. The United States has long (since World War II) played a critical role in Taiwan’s politics, including its elections. The reason is apparent: in 1950 President Truman sent the 7th Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to block Mao’s plan to invade the island; he saved Taiwan. America has served as Taiwan’s guardian ever since. Today China’s military could “liberate” Taiwan and make it part of China probably in a few hours if the US declined to intervene.
Written by Milo Hsieh. This year’s election season is marked by the two camps of nationalists. On one end, though those in support of formally creating a Taiwanese state were at odds with Tsai in the beginning of the year, they eventually formed a united front after Tsai’s victory in the DPP primary. On the other end, supporters of the KMT and presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu showed more support than ever for the ROC flag.
Written by Adrian Chiu. A large number of Hong Kong people travelled to Taiwan, personally covering experiences, just to share the sentimental moment of the Tsai’s predicted victory. Hong Kongers were present at electoral rallies in Taiwan, waving the anti-ELAB movement flag and slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.” Although these Hong Kong people may not vote in Taiwan, they nevertheless all campaigned for Tsai.
Written by J. Michael Cole. A long time in the making and after many challenges, a major politico-historical TV drama about Taiwan’s democratization will finally hit TV sets nationwide on 20 January. Based on political developments and figures from the 1990s, “Island Nation” (國際橋牌社) follows the hopes, fears and travails of a wide set of fictional characters in the dramatic years of Taiwan’s transition from an authoritarian state to a democracy.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. Tsai’s overwhelming victory represents a tremendous comeback, as her popularity was at an all-time low just one year ago after the disastrous local elections of November 2018. The KMT made major gains in the 218 races for county magistrates and city mayors, including the race for Kaohsiung mayor which Han Kuo-yu won.
Written by Po Lin. These three challenges, the collapse of a populist structure, human rights issues in the PRC, and the systematic changes in the international system all impacted Han Kuo-yu’s presidential campaign. These reasons explain why Han will be swamped in the trench fight during this presidential campaign. Han’s rise was unexpected and the outcome of his current political journey will be revealed on 11 January. The result of ROC’s presidential election will influence the stability of the region and the US’s Asia-Pacific grand strategy.
Written by Mei-chuan Wei. Han’s campaign strategies were ‘unconventional’, especially given his position as the KMT candidate. For example, his rhetoric intentionally appeals to ‘common folks’ (shumin), the majority of whom are working class people and have been the main social base of the DPP’s political support. Han’s anti-elitist position was also considered unusual, for although the DPP is generally seen as increasingly elitist, the KMT has always been perceived to be the elitist party.
Written by Jeremy Huai-Che Chiang. Tsai and the DPP currently see China as a destabiliser not only in cross-Strait relations, but also the global order. Tsai, however, has still stuck to her policy of maintaining the status quo. Besides diversifying the country’s economic networks through the New Southbound Policy, Tsai’s administration has also built ties with like-minded democracies such as the US, EU and its member states, Japan and Australia. These efforts help build international support for Taiwan’s continued autonomy.
Written by Jeremy Huai-Che Chiang. The KMT is tied to the idea that peace with China is the only way out for Taiwan, and should be maintained despite its heavy political costs. This has led them to avoid openly refuting Xi’s infringement of the “1992 Consensus” in January 2019, instead placing significant focus on the domestic opinion front against it being associated with Beijing’s framework. For Han and many in the KMT, China is a non-issue, and putting too much constraints on this will only cost Taiwan’s future. Economic ties with China are crucial and necessary.
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 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.