Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, President Tsai Ing-wen has been able to obtain and continue to sustain high supporting rates mainly due to the many successful policy measures put forward to contain the negative impacts of the pandemic. The first opinion poll conducted after Tsai commenced her second-term of presidency in May showed her reaching a record-high of 71.2 per cent of supporting rate. Although there have been changes to Tsai’s support rate in following months, including a 10.5 per cent drop to 61 per cent in June, she is still able to sustain a high popularity rate of 65.8 per cent according to an August survey.
Written by Xiaoxue Martin. The Tsai administration’s steadfast diplomacy exhibits more continuities with its predecessors’ foreign policy than it cares to admit. Especially the large sums of development aid and assistance to diplomatic partners are a costly and unsustainable method to protect its alliances. The global downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will only make its allies more vulnerable to economic persuasion. With only 15 diplomatic allies left, and the mainland Chinese pressure to switch recognition only rising, the stakes are higher than ever before. With these bleak prospects, Taiwan’s unofficial partners are increasingly more important than the dwindling number of official diplomatic allies.
Written by Hiro Fu. Few observers were surprised to see Chen Chi-mai of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) win Kaohsiung’s mayoral by-election. In his victory speech, Chen called his win “Democracy’s victory, Kaohsiung’s victory.” This is an image that the DPP hopes to cast upon its return to power after Chen’s defeat in the 2018 mayoral elections. However, the DPP’s victory should not be confused with a victory for democracy, or necessarily as a victory for Kaohsiung.
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. Former President of Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui passed away this summer. The Beijing/Unification faction hated Lee, and the Independent faction/Mike Pompeo praised him as the Father of Taiwan Democracy, if not the Father of Taiwan. How do we evaluate Lee? What is Lee’s vision of where and how Taiwan is heading in the next century? How do our perspectives of him reflect our Taiwanese identity?
Written by John F. Copper. In 1963 I journeyed to Taiwan to further my study of Chinese, sponsored by the East West Center at the University of Hawaii. I heard of Lee Teng-hui at this time. He was one of the experts that designed and operationalized Taiwan’s well-known and eminently successful land reform program. Little did I know that Lee would become one of modern Taiwan’s foremost leaders and someone I would meet and learn much more about in coming years.
Written by J. Michael Cole. On July 30, former president Lee Teng-hui, whom many regard as the father of Taiwan’s democracy, passed away at the age of 97. Lee leaves behind a nation that is markedly different from what it was when he entered politics decades ago. No figure—none—has had as major an impact on Taiwan than Lee, whose decisions in the crucial period between the late 1980s and early 1990s determined the future course of the nation and propelled into the “third wave” of democratisation.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On July 30 2020, Taiwan’s “Father of Democracy,” former President Lee Teng-hui passed away in Taipei at the ripe old age of 97. He served as the country’s President from 1988 until 2000 and guided its transformation from a repressive authoritarian dictatorship that had been imposed on the island by the Chinese Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek after World War II, to the vibrant democracy that is Taiwan today.
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 Jacques deLisle. Tsai Ing-wen begins her second and final term as Taiwan’s president buoyed by her adept handling of a pair of crises. But the skill, and luck, of Tsai and the Democratic Progressive Party-led government are likely to be tested on several fronts
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. What will President Tsai Ing-wen do in her second term? To answer this question, this essay reviewed three previous Taiwanese Presidents’ second terms and attempted to assess how Tsai and Taiwan politics operate in 2020-2024. Tsai is the most formidable Taiwanese President of the last thirty years. Her unprecedented political clout contributes to seven explanations as to why this is the case.
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?