Written by Gunter Schubert. Since its electoral defeat in the presidential and legislative elections in January, the KMT has entered a period of soul-searching. For many observers, Taiwan’s largest opposition party, which governed the country almost exclusively since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, is struggling for political survival. As well as having lost power, the KMT has been stripped of many of its assets in the name of ‘transitional justice.’ The pending investigations are an attempt by the DPP government to clarify whether those assets were illegally acquired during the authoritarian era and must, therefore, be transferred to the state.
Written by Ti-Han Chang. From a global perspective, today’s Taiwan is known for its cultural and ethnic diversity, its complex political relationship with China, and its recent achievements in socio-political democratisation (for instance, the Sunflower student movement and the legalisation of same-sex marriage). Yet, not many people have come to know contemporary Taiwan through its postcolonial literature, which, for me, is an important field that foregrounds Taiwan’s significance in the geographical context of the Asia Pacific in modern time.
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 Wen-Ti Sung. Taiwan hosted its quadrennial presidential and legislative elections on 11 January 2020. Shaping the contours of these critical elections is first and foremost the impending US-China strategic rivalry, as manifested in the Hong Kong crisis and the resultant prioritisation of national security above all other campaign issues on the part of the Taiwanese electorate.
Written by Po Lin. These three challenges, the collapse of a populist structure, human rights issues in the PRC, and the systematic changes in the international system all impacted Han Kuo-yu’s presidential campaign. These reasons explain why Han will be swamped in the trench fight during this presidential campaign. Han’s rise was unexpected and the outcome of his current political journey will be revealed on 11 January. The result of ROC’s presidential election will influence the stability of the region and the US’s Asia-Pacific grand strategy.
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 J. Michael Cole. The Kuomintang (KMT) began 2019 a seemingly reinvigorated party following its successes in the previous November’s nationwide local elections. Epitomising this new energy was Han Kuo-yu, the candidate who had scored an unexpected victory against his opponent from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Kaohsiung, Chen Chi-mai. No sooner had Han assumed his seat as mayor of the southern port city than the “wave” that brought him into office elevated him to even greater heights.
Written by Ann Heylen. Taiwan presidential election campaigning would be incomplete without language controversies. On 3 November during her Taichung ‘Chia-fen lectures’, Lee Chia-fen, spouse of KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu, spoke up in support of her husband’s vision of educational policy. Here we will examine some of the responses to these statements.
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.