Written by J. Michael Cole. Despite the high polarization that characterizes Taiwanese politics, the country’s three-decade-long democratic history has, to its credit, witnessed near-universal respect for those ideals. The three transitions that have occurred since democratization — in 2000, 2008 and 2016 — have been peaceful; even the paper-thin re-election of Chen Shui-bian in 2004, during which some members of the opposition camp engaged in acts of violence, never came close to being regarded as illegitimate.
Written by Daniel Davis. In next year’s legislative elections both the KMT and DPP are hoping to secure a majority, but after the shock results of 2018 and the growing number of small parties, every seat seems to be contested. The seats held by indigenous legislators, traditionally seen as iron votes for the KMT and pan-blue parties, have also become an open contest and could play a pivotal role in the outcome of the elections.
Written by Gray Sergeant. A Green Party Taiwan (GPT) poll early this month showed President Tsai commanding a substantial lead over her KMT rival, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, in a head-to-head race. Although the eighteen point advantage to Tsai and the DPP is strikingly large, it does fit in with general polling trends over the past few months showing Mayor Han’s slumping popularity. This same survey also asked respondents how they would vote in the island-wide party ballot for the country’s Legislative Yuan. Here the DPP lead crumbled with only 25% voting for the governing party, while 35% for the KMT.
Written by Santanu Sarkar and Mei-Chun Liu. The independent labour movement is at a crossroads. The DPP’s campaign for independence will reduce jobs as the mainland will curb exports and investment in Taiwan, whereas defending unification will rob Taiwanese jobs as the mainland friendly KMT will not hesitate to liberalise the economy so that the outflow of foreign investment increases alongside privatisation.
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 Lara Momesso.
As Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections approach, major and minor parties are busy defining their agendas, electoral campaign strategies, and potential interest groups. New immigrants have emerged as an increasingly important constituency in Taiwanese political debate In January 2016, new immigrants with Taiwanese citizenship comprised 1.33% of the total electorate. Although this does not yet constitute a major constituency, the portion is predicted to increase next year.
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 David O’Brien. One of the odder cross-Strait news stories this month was the case of the Shandong man surnamed Chang who was spotted emerging from the sea onto a beach of Taiwan’s Lesser Kinmen Island with three child’s inflatable swimming rings, a big bag of chillies and 1,381 RMB.
Written by J. Michael Cole. More and more, there are signs that the mainstream KMT is trying to reassert control over its destiny. And that core KMT, as history has shown, can be ruthless. Within a matter of months, Han the savior has turned into a liability, and a bit of an embarrassment, for the party. What happens in the next weeks and months is anyone’s guess, but it is easy to conclude that Han and his supporters might not like what the blue camp has in store for them.
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 Gunter Schubert. Unlike many populist leaders, Han’s public speeches have not been xenophobic, nor has he polemicised against LGBTQ rights (though he has promised to undo recent legislation allowing same-sex marriage should he be elected president). Moreover, his support for the ‘1992 consensus’ sounds more opportunistic than driven by pan-Chinese nationalism and his commitment to cross-Strait economic exchange does not prove that he supports ‘unification’ or wants to cosy up to the Chinese Communist Party.
Written by Brian Hoie. Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu was announced as the winner of the KMT presidential primary on the 15 of July, KMT vice-chair Tseng Yung-chuan making the announcement at a press conference on that morning. As such, Han will be the KMT’s presidential candidate in 2020 elections.