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.
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 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 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 John F. Copper. Could it be that President Tsai’s favourable image improved so dramatically from January to June? It is hard to believe that it did.
Did the DPP leadership manipulate the polls to favor President Tsai? That seems so. Taiwan had never experienced a standing president being challenged in a primary election for a party’s nomination. It would have been traumatic for the party if William Lai had been chosen. Also, his nomination would have imperiled relations with China and the United States.
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 Dongtao Qi. Since the DPP was trounced by the KMT in the November 2018 nine-in-one local elections, most public opinion polls found that compared to other possible presidential candidates, popular support for president Tsai in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election was consistently the lowest. However, about six months before the 2020 presidential election, many polls showed a surprising turn…
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.