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 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 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.
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 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. 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.