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 Timothy S. Rich and Alexandrea Pike-Goff. Taiwan is notable in the region for its successful efforts towards gender parity for elected offices. The 2016 Legislative Yuan election resulted in women winning 38% of seats, comparable more to democracies in Northern Europe than other East Asian democracies. For example, women comprise only 17.1% of seats in South Korea’s 2016 National Assembly election and 10.2% of Japan’s 2017 House of Representatives election. Taiwan’s progress in this regard has been attributed to multiple factors, including gender quotas at the national level where parties allot half of their party list candidates to females, as well as local level quotas that develop a pool of female candidates with the experience to be competitive for higher offices.
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 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 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 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 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.
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 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.