Written by Wei-Ting Yen. In the past few years, two political outsiders in Taiwan have quickly accumulated popularity and became serious political contenders in elections. One is Ko Wen-Je, currently the mayor of Taipei. The other one is Han Kuo-Yu, the recently impeached mayor of Kaohsiung, the second-largest city in Taiwan. Their rise has prompted the island nation to widely debate whether populism has grown its roots in Taiwan because Ko and Han share similar populist traits.
Written by Kharis Templeman. If Tsai Ing-wen is superstitious, she should be worried: second term presidents in Taiwan appear to be cursed. Much like President Tsai, her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou started his second term on a confident and triumphant note. But over the next four years, he faced a relentless series of political crises, including an intraparty power struggle with Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, massive protests against the death of a military conscript and construction of a nuclear power plant, and of course the Sunflower Movement occupation of the legislature, which effectively halted cross-Strait rapprochement with Beijing.
Written by Yu-tzung Chang. Many people have begun to worry that as with the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, the DPP will hold power for a long time in the future, and Taiwan will become a dominant one-party system. There are three reasons why I think this is unlikely. First, although the national identification cleavage has waned, new controversies are continually emerging, including same-sex marriage, health insurance premiums, and environmental protection, making Taiwan a typical pluralistic society. Politicians must find ways to bring together various “minority views” and assemble a “majority force” to win elections.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. On 6 June 2020, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu suffered a devastating defeat in the recall election with almost 940,000 ballots agreeing to remove him from office after just 18 months since his inauguration. What are the underlying reasons for Han’s abrupt rise and fall over two years? What are the political implications of Han’s recall for not only the Kuomintang (KMT) but also the development of Taiwan’s democracy?
Written by Fumiko Sasaki. The Trump administration has intensified its anti-China campaign. Consequently, rhetoric has been strongly pro-Taiwan. Due to the increased negative sentiment toward China in the U.S., the presidential candidate from each party will need to take a tough stance toward China to win the election. Regardless of the election outcome, President Tsai Ing-Wen should not anticipate such trends to continue and must be wise in aligning with allies inside the U.S.
Written by Milo Hsieh. In January, Taiwan saw the re-election of its DPP President Tsai Ing-wen. The January election, which saw the DPP once more taking a firm majority in the Legislative Yuan, was a victory for the DPP that also gave rise to smaller parties. The KMT, taking lessons from its defeat, went on to reposition its policy on cross-strait issues with the election of a new party chairman.
Written by John F. Copper. Nearing the half-year point in her second term as president it is fitting to ask: how is President Tsai faring? It is a good time for a report card. On January 11, President Tsai won a resounding re-election victory over her KMT opponent Han Kuo-yu, the Mayor of Kaohsiung. Her party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), also secured a majority in the concurrent legislative vote, though it was not as impressive as Tsai’s win
Written by Frédéric Krumbein. As the only Chinese democracy that has ever existed, Taiwan shows that Chinese culture, authentic democracy and respect for human rights can coexist. It is thus pertinent to ask – to what extent is Taiwan a bastion of democracy and human rights? How has Taiwan gone about promoting these values in the region, and how will it continue to do so moving forward?
Written by Sam Robbins. Taiwanese politics has been digital as long as it has been democratic. Taiwan’s first direct presidential election in 1996 was hotly debated on popular BBS systems of the time. More recent elections have been fought on blogs, PTT, facebook and elsewhere. Taiwanese politicians have always been looking for new methods to connect with voters and make themselves visible in an ever-changing digital landscape.
Written by Isabelle Cheng. For most Taiwan election observers, mid-November 2019 was full of high drama and factional struggle as the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) adjusted their nominations of non-constituency legislators (bufenqu daibiao, 不分區代表) on party representative lists. It was probably less likely, though, that observer attention would be drawn to how immigrant candidates featured on the list. However, for immigrant leaders, such as the one who rang me at 2:20am on Monday 18 November 2019, the two parties’ nominations caused a strong sense of disillusionment.
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 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.