Featuring Austin Horng-En Wang, Assistant Professor University of Nevada, Las Vegas, followed by a conversation with Kharis Templeman Research Fellow Hoover Institution.
Programming note: I had to bow out of this event at the last minute because of a positive COVID test; a hearty thanks to my colleague Glenn Tiffert for stepping in on very short notice.
On behalf of the Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific Region, and its National Security Task Force, the Hoover Institution invites you to How the Ukraine Crisis Shapes Taiwan’s Public Opinion -- and Beyond on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 from 4:00 - 5:00 PST.
Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and Ukraine’s response has changed the calculation of war strategies and US involvement worldwide. On the other side of the world, a potential 2027 China invasion of Taiwan looms over the stability of East Asia, and public opinion in democratic Taiwan plays a crucial role in its own choice of security strategies. How does the Ukraine crisis influence or shape the Taiwanese people’s preference for security and foreign policies? How might the US response and presence in Europe and East Asia play a role in Taiwan? In this talk, Dr. Austin Horng-En Wang traces and analyzes public opinion in Taiwan before and after the start of the Ukraine crisis and explains how the changes across subgroups are likely to impact the upcoming elections in Taiwan and the future of the US-Taiwan relationship.
Featuring Austin Horng-En Wang, Assistant Professor University of Nevada, Las Vegas, followed by a conversation with Kharis Templeman Research Fellow Hoover Institution.
Dr. Austin Horng-En Wang is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His research focuses on political psychology, public opinion, and the politics of East Asia. His research articles can be found in the Journal of Peace Research, Social Media + Society, Asian Survey, and Political Research Quarterly, among others. He is the recipient of The Wilson Center 2021 China Fellowship, Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation 2020 Scholarship, and Global Taiwan Institute 2019 Scholarship.
Join the Next Cohort of the U.S.-Taiwan Next Generation Working Group -- Applications Due November 1
The Institute of East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley is accepting applications for the second cohort of next-generation Taiwan scholars and policymakers. The goal of this program is to nurture a new generation of U.S. experts on Taiwan, cross-Strait relations, and U.S.-Taiwan relations. As Taiwan's importance to U.S. security and economic interests in the region has increased over the last few years, so has the need for a deeper bench of people who specialize in the politics, economics, society, and culture of Taiwan.
The deadline for applications for this cycle is November 1. Applicants "must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and hold a tenure-track position in a U.S. institution of higher education or equivalent experience as a mid-career specialist in the public or private sector."
Note that they really mean this second part -- if you are in the private sector or hold a government or think tank job, this program is also intended for you! Most of the participants in the first cohort did not hold a tenure-track position.
Additional details can be found below and at the program website.
About the Program
The Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS) at UC Berkeley has for over two decades facilitated the dissemination of research on Taiwan through conferences, workshops, lectures, and publications. Keeping in that vein, IEAS, with generous support from the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco, is accepting applications for the second cohort of the U.S.-Taiwan Next Generation Working Group: an in-depth training program for scholars and policymakers with an interest in U.S.-Taiwan relations who show promise as future experts on foreign affairs in relation to Taiwan.
The U.S.-Taiwan Next Generation Working Group is a three-year program, through which a cohort of ten specialists will be selected to participate in a series of meetings in Washington D.C., California, and Taipei. At these meetings, participants will have opportunities to discuss issues of importance to U.S.-Taiwan relations with policymakers, government officials, business, and opinion leaders in Taiwan and the United States. Participants will be expected to develop a policy paper on an issue of importance to the U.S.-Taiwan bilateral relationship under the guidance of the program’s Senior Advisors (Thomas B. Gold, UC Berkeley; Shelley Rigger, Davidson College; and Jude Blanchette, CSIS), as well as submit short reflection papers after each of the three meetings. The Senior Advisors will facilitate and participate in program meetings, and advise participants on how to effectively engage with the media, participate in the policymaking process, and expand their professional networks. When opportunities arise, members of the working group will be invited and encouraged to present their research findings at conferences and other venues throughout the project period in both the United States and Taiwan.
The program aims to identify, nurture, and build a community of American public policy intellectuals across a wide range of sectors and facilitate spin-offs of policy-oriented research teams and projects. In all, it will contribute to the understanding of Taiwanese points of view in international venues and support Taiwan and the United States in promoting their key mutual ideas and values as leaders in the international community by facilitating deeper and more vigorous dialogue and research not only on topics of immediate concern to the bilateral relationship, but also on ways to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan coordination in global affairs.
For the rest of this preview, see: Part I. Part II. Part III.
Summing up, here's the ratings as of August 16:
By way of conclusion, here are five observations on the 2022 local elections three months out:
1. The KMT is down but not out. There is now a frequent refrain among outside observers that the KMT is just hopelessly disorganized and dysfunctional and cannot mount a serious challenge to the DPP anymore, until and unless it changes its position on cross-Strait relations. Maybe. But going through race by race here suggests the party's candidates are still very competitive in local elections. By my own count, I have the KMT nominee favored right now to win in 16 of 22 localities -- that's more than they control today.
Perhaps I'm being too generous to the blue camp here -- and after adding the numbers up I'm feeling a wee bit uncomfortable with how lopsided they are -- but one can at least make a reasonable case that the KMT will hold a majority of local executives after these elections, IF (big if) the national environment doesn't turn against it. Despite a rough few years, the party still has significant residual strength at the local level, and reports of its impending demise have been greatly exaggerated.
2. HOWEVA, there is a lot of downside risk for the KMT. Since 2014, all local elections in Taiwan have been held concurrently. As a result, outcomes across races have been more correlated than they used to be. The last two election cycles have produced big swings against the party in power: in 2014, President Ma Ying-jeou's approval ratings were under 20 percent, and the DPP flipped seven counties and cities as part of an anti-KMT wave election. In 2018, Tsai's ratings were under 30 percent, and the KMT swept all the competitive races except for Taipei, where Mayor Ko barely hung on.
In this election cycle, the KMT is playing defense: they hold 14 of the 22 local posts and will do well just to keep that number. More than six years into her presidency, Tsai Ing-wen has defied the second-term curse and her approval ratings have been positive for most of the last two years. The KMT's party ID numbers have fallen far behind the DPP (the latest NCCU/ESC polls have DPP identifiers at 31% of respondents, and the KMT at a record-low 14%.) And US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in early August has triggered an extended round of military exercises and bellicose rhetoric from Beijing that has put the KMT on the defensive again. As the "China-friendly" party in Taiwan, the KMT has traditionally suffered politically when the salience of the threat from the PRC increases. (This is arguably a big part of the reason Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected in 2020.)
It's possible that a natural disaster, a worsening COVID situation, a new government scandal or two, or just a general weariness with the DPP could drag down the central government's popularity over the next three months. But if Beijing's military exercises and pressure campaign on Taiwanese agricultural products continue, they are likely to help the DPP and hurt the KMT. In addition, the CCP's 20th Party Congress will likely happen sometime in November [update 8.30: it will begin earlier, on Oct 16], where expectations are that Xi Jinping will be confirmed for a third term as General Party Secretary. Not since 1992 has this meeting been held around the same time as a major Taiwanese election (the 14th Party Congress was 12-18 October, and the LY election was 19 December), and, depending on what is said about Taiwan there, it has the potential to trigger another public opinion backlash in Taiwan against the PRC, much like Xi Jinping's January 2, 2019 speech to "Taiwan compatriots" led to a rebound in Tsai Ing-wen's approval ratings.
So, despite having a strong slate of candidates for local office, the KMT could easily lose most of the competitive races if the salience of cross-Strait relations remains high through the fall.
3. Nominations are half the battle. Both major parties moved away from the polling primaries method they've used in the past to select nominees, and instead empowered the chair to "negotiate" or hand-pick nominees in most races. The DPP has done this a lot during the Tsai Ing-wen era; one of her political gifts is effectively managing the intra-party fights over offices and spoils in a way that keeps everyone onside. She's mostly succeeded at that again here, although the party's slate of nominees as a whole seems rather underwhelming to me. Despite their recent success at the national level, the DPP still doesn't have a deep bench of local politicians who have built up grass-roots networks and can play the factional game as well as the KMT. And in places like Chiayi, Yunlin, or Changhua, winning that game can still be decisive.
On the KMT side, Eric Chu had a couple well-publicized nomination fiascos in Taoyuan and Miaoli. But in most of the other races, the party has recruited well. Chu's task has been made easier by having incumbents to renominate in many races, which has helped head off the kind of factional squabbling that has bedeviled the party in the past. It's especially notable that with popular mayors running again in Chiayi City, Changhua, and Yunlin, the KMT is well-positioned to hold on in several jurisdictions that have become reliably "green" in national elections.
Both major parties still face threats in several races from spoiler candidates from the minor parties, the NPP and TPP. The NPP is now firmly in the pan-green camp, and the presence of its nominees will almost certainly hurt the DPP more, as they did in the 2020 legislative elections. The TPP is new to local politics this cycle, and it is trying to position itself as more centrist than the KMT. It could erode support for or even eclipse the KMT, as some recent public polling has shown it might; but given the long track record of third party candidates in Taiwan underperforming in elections relative to early polls, I'll believe it only when I see it.
4. Does the amendment to lower the voting age have a chance? Unlike in 2018, there’s not going to be referendums held alongside the local elections. There will, however, be a vote on a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age, from 20 to 18 years old. There is no open partisan opposition to the amendment, which passed the legislature 109-0 on March 25. But it does require the support of half of all eligible voters to take effect -- not just half of those voting. With an electorate of 19.3 million, that means 9.65 million yes votes are required for approval. So it will need high turnout in the local elections, and even so it is far from certain the proposal will get enough support to pass the threshold. This is the first time the voters will decide on a constitutional amendment since the new procedure was adopted in 2005.
5. Year of the Woman? I was surprised at just how well-represented women are in both parties this cycle. Either the KMT or DPP has nominated a woman in 2 of 6 special municipalities, and 10 of 16 other races. In 3 races (Nantou, Changhua, and Hualien), both candidates are women. Taiwan rightly gets a lot of attention for having a woman as president and increasing representation in the legislature (41% in 2020, up from 38% in 2016). But the numbers at the local level are also striking: one can easily imagine a result in 2022 where women end up leading a majority of Taiwan's localities, in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Yilan, Hsinchu City, Nantou, Changhua, Chiayi City, Yunlin, Pingtung, Hualien, and Taitung.
That’s all the more impressive because the cabinet still looks like this:
And the top of Taiwanese academia looks like this:
And the business world still looks like this:
Electoral politics really is a women’s profession in Taiwan, which makes it exceptional in the region, and a nice contrast to Japan and Korea, and of course these guys across the Strait:
Chiayi City - 嘉義市
KMT: Renominated incumbent mayor Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠).
DPP: Nominated former legislator and deputy mayor Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) on June 28.
Others: Four independents, including the novelty candidate formerly known as Huang Hong-cheng (黃宏成).
Result: KMT hold. Huang Min-hui wins, 63.8-35.0%.
Chiayi County - 嘉義縣
KMT: Nominated former legislator Wang Yu-min (also known as Alicia Wang 王育敏) on August 3.
DPP: Renominated incumbent Weng Chang-liang (翁章梁).
Result: DPP hold. Weng Chang-liang wins, 62.9-37.1%
Yunlin County - 雲林縣
KMT: Renominated incumbent Chang Li-shan (張麗善).
DPP: Nominated legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) on April 27.
Others: One minor candidate, Lin Chia-yu (林佳瑜).
Result: KMT hold. Chang wins, 56.6-41.6%
Pingtung County - 屏東縣
KMT: Nominated former legislator Su Ching-chuan (蘇清泉).
DPP: Nominated party-list legislator Chou Chun-mi (周春米) on April 27.
Others: The NPP is running a candidate here, Chan Chih-chun (詹智鈞). No others.
Result: DPP hold. Chou Chun-mi wins, 49.1-46.6%.
Hualien County - 花蓮縣
KMT: Renominated incumbent magistrate Hsu Chen-wei (徐榛蔚).
DPP: Nominated presidential spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka on July 5.
Others: Perennial candidate Huang Shih-peng (黃師鵬). No others.
Result: KMT hold. Hsu Chen-wei wins, 64.7-32.0%.
Taitung County - 台東縣
KMT: Renominated incumbent magistrate Rao Ching-ling (also spelled Yao 饒慶鈴).
DPP: Nominated legislator Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪) on July 5.
Others: One independent, Chen Chang-hung (陳長宏).
Result: KMT hold. Rao Ching-ling wins 61.2-36.7%.
Penghu County - 澎湖縣
KMT: Renominated incumbent Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉).
DPP: Nominated former magistrate Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復) on August 10.
Others: Magong mayor Yeh Chu-lin (葉竹林) left the KMT in 2021.
Update 9.23: toss-up. With Yeh Chu-lan's run, suddenly there is a pan-blue split here, too, and Penghu now looks like a true toss-up. Over half of Penghu voters live in Magong City, so Yeh starts out with a formidable base. The incumbent Lai only won 39% of the vote last time so both Yeh and Chen have a good shot here in a three-way race.
Result: DPP gain. Chen Kuang-fu wins 36.6-33.3-30.0%.
Kinmen County - 金門縣
KMT: Renominated incumbent magistrate Yang Cheng-wu (楊鎮浯) on April 20.
DPP: Unless I've missed an announcement, the DPP still hasn't found anyone to run here this time around.
Others: The previous magistrate Chen Fu-hai (陳福海) registered on the last day, along with a third candidate, KMT county councilor Lee Ying-wen (李應文). Three other independents.
Update 9.23: toss up. With Chen Fu-hai changing his mind, this is now a 3-way race. All three candidates are nominally KMT members, although Yang is the official nominee and the party is likely to suspend Chen and Lee's membership. As the incumbent, Yang probably has the edge, but he suddenly has a tough race on his hands.
Result: Independent (KMT renegade) gain. Chen Fu-hai wins, 49.3-41.1%.
Lienchiang County - 連江縣 (Matsu Islands)
KMT: The party apparently hasn't endorsed a candidate, instead letting two party members duke it out in the general: deputy magistrate Wang Chung-ming (王忠銘) and Tsao Er-yuan (曹爾元) are both running.
DPP: Nominated party chapter head Lii Wen (李問) on August 10.
Result: KMT hold. Wang Chung-min wins 51.0-42.1%.
This is Part II of the 2022 local elections overview. For coverage of special municipalities, see Part I. For the South, East, and Offshore Islands, see Part III. For concluding thoughts, see Part IV.
Keelung City - 基隆市
KMT: Nominated former legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) on May 26.
DPP: Nominated legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) on July 22.
Others: The NPP has nominated a candidate for mayor here, city councilor Chen Wei-chung (陳薇仲). Independent candidate Huang Hsi-hsien (黃希賢) left the KMT in 2021. One other political novice registered -- a poet named Tseng Kuo-min (曾國民).
Result: KMT gain. Hsieh Kuo-liang wins, 52.9-39.0%.
Yilan County - 宜蘭縣
KMT: Renominated incumbent county executive Lin Zi-miao (林姿妙).
DPP: Nominated Yilan City mayor Chiang Tsung-yuan (江聰淵).
Others: The TPP has nominated party caucus director Chen Wan-hui (陳琬惠) here. Update 9.2: Three others.
Update 10.26: Leans KMT. Recent polling indicates Lin is holding on despite the corruption charges, and Chiang hasn't made much progress here. I have no local knowledge about what is going on in this race, but if Chiang was going to consolidate the green camp behind him it should have happened by now. Two polls from very different outlets using different methods both find him stuck in the low 30s -- in Yilan! Lin Zi-miao is enjoying the advantages of incumbency, I guess? Rating change to Leans KMT.
Result: KMT hold. Lin Zi-miao wins 50.8-41.1%.
Hsinchu City - 新竹市
KMT: Nominated 6-term city councilor Lin Geng-ren (林耕仁) on June 22.
DPP: Nominated deputy mayor Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹), also on June 22.
Others: The TPP has nominated party-list legislator Kao Hung-an 高虹安. The NPP may also field a candidate here. Update 9.2: In the end, the NPP did not endorse a candidate; 3 independents registered.
Update 10.26: Toss-Up. Kao is clearly competitive here, and her candidacy seems to be pulling more support from the blue than green camp. Still a month to go, but this race could break toward any of the three main candidates now. It's certainly not looking great for Lin and the KMT...Rating change to Toss-Up.
Result: TPP gain. Kao Hung-an wins 45.0-35.7%.
Hsinchu County - 新竹縣
KMT: Renominated incumbent Yang Wen-ke (楊文科).
DPP: Nominated Chou Chiang-chieh (周江杰) on August 8.
Others: Chubei mayor Ho Kan-ming (何淦銘) declared his own candidacy in June and tried without success to convince the DPP to back him. Update 9.23: Ho pulled out of the race at the last moment; 3 other independents registered.
Update 9.23: Safe KMT. With Ho not running and no other prominent pan-blue candidates registering, this race is now effectively a one-on-one contest between a KMT incumbent facing a young, untested DPP nominee in a deep blue county. There's a plausible scenario in which Yang could have lost this election, but this is not it. Rating change to Safe KMT.
Result: KMT hold. Yang Ke-wen wins 63.4-32.4%.
Miaoli County - 苗栗縣
KMT: Initially announced Legislator Hsu Chih-jung (徐志榮) as the nominee on May 14. But Hsu didn't want to run, and on June 29 he was replaced by Hsieh Fu-hung (謝福弘).
DPP: Nominated Hsu Ting-chen (徐定禎) on April 27.
Others: KMT member Chung Tung-chin (鐘東錦) declared he would defy the party leadership and run as an independent shortly after Hsieh's nomination was announced. The NPP has also nominated a candidate here, Song Kuo-ting (宋國鼎). One other independent candidate.
Update 10.26: Toss-up. The renegade candidate Chung still seems to be a serious threat to win this. In the absence of good polling data and with all four candidates apparently still viable, rating change to Toss-Up.
Result: Independent (KMT renegade) gain. Chung wins 42.7%-31.2%.
Nantou County - 南投縣
KMT: Nominated legislator Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) on May 26. (Not to be confused with Taipei City DPP councilor Hsu Shu-hua (also written 許淑華 in Chinese.))
DPP: Nominated former party-list legislator Frida Tsai (蔡培慧) on March 29.
Others: One independent, county councilor Wang Yung-ching (王永慶).
Result: KMT hold. Hsu Shu-hua wins, 56.0-42.8%.
Changhua County - 彰化縣
KMT: Renominated incumbent Wang Huei-mei (王惠美).
DPP: Nominated legislator legislator Huang Shiou-fang (黃秀芳) on June 28.
Others: One minor candidate.
Result: KMT hold. Wang Hui-mei wins, 56.8-41.9%.
Taiwan's local elections will be held this year on Saturday, November 26, the date set by the Central Election Commission. Altogether, nine different types of offices are up for election:
Since 2014, these elections have all been held concurrently on a four-year cycle. The local elections in 2022 are the only island-wide ones to be held between the 2020 and 2024 general elections for president and the legislature. That makes these something like midterm elections in the United States: in addition to deciding who governs across all of Taiwan's localities, they also are an important bellwether for trends in party politics. In 2014, the DPP flipped seven of the county and city executives, providing the first concrete indication that it could surpass the KMT and sweep to victory in 2016. In 2018, the KMT returned the favor, flipping nine local mayors including an astonishing upset victory by Han Kuo-yu in Kaohsiung; Han's victory set off a politically volatile period in Taiwan politics that concluded only with Tsai Ing-wen's equally astonishing comeback and emphatic reelection in January 2020.
In an important shift, this time around both major parties have mostly done away with the party member votes and polling primaries that they had used over the past several election cycles to choose their nominees for city and county executives. Instead, the party chair --Tsai Ing-wen for the DPP, Eric Chu for the KMT -- is playing a decisive role in "negotiating" the nominees in each locality. (As this post from Nathan Batto details, both major parties have become more skeptical about the value of using polls to decide nominees after the 2020 election cycle.) The DPP has had considerable success using this method of negotiation in the past, but the KMT has typically struggled to work out side deals in the same way and suffered lots of intra-party splits as a result. A key concern for both, then, will be keeping disgruntled party members who were denied a nomination from running anyway as independents, or not campaigning to elect the party's official candidates.
Now that the candidates for most of these races have been chosen, I am going to keep notes here on the nominees for each executive race, along with whatever other tidbits might be relevant, and try to give some context for what to expect. To keep this manageable, I've broken this discussion into three parts. Today's post has an overview of the highest-profile races in the six special municipalities (直轄市): Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. Later I'll break down the county-level executive races in north and central Taiwan, and then follow with the south, east, and offshore islands.
Update 8.27. I've added in a rough estimate of the partisan leaning of each locality. Following the Partisan Voting Index (PVI) developed by the Cook Political Report for elections in the United States, I've called this the Taiwan Partisan Voting Index (T-PVI). To calculate T-PVI, I averaged the DPP presidential vote share in each jurisdiction over the last two presidential elections (in 2016 and 2020), then took the difference between the national and local vote share. B+1 means the city or county is one point bluer (i.e. less favorable to the DPP) than the national electorate. G+1 means it is one point greener (more favorable to the DPP.) By this measure, the "bluest" locality in Taiwan is Lienchiang County, at B+38, and the "greenest" is Tainan at G+11. Of Taiwan's 22 localities, 14 are bluer than average, 7 are greener, and one (Changhua County) is even. So, in a national political environment where the blue and green camps are running even, the blue side should be favored to win 14 localities to the green side's 7.
Update 9.20. The latest TFOP poll shows Tsai Ing-wen's approval rating dropping to 43.8% in September, the lowest monthly rating since June 2021, and near the lowest point of her second term. The national environment for the DPP doesn't look as favorable as it did two months ago.
Update 10.26. October TFOP poll is out and shows Tsai Ing-wen's approval rating bouncing back up to 51.2%, and generic identification with the DPP jumping up from 22.4% to 33.5%. That increase might (?) be related to the attention on the CCP 20th Party Congress, where Xi Jinping secured a third term as party secretary and stacked the Standing Committee of the Politburo with his own loyalists. Regardless, that's a big improvement for the DPP in the last month before the elections.
Taipei - 台北市
KMT: Nominated Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) on May 25.
DPP: Nominated Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on July 10.
Others: Deputy mayor Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊) declared as an independent candidate on August 28. Former Tainan County magistrate Su Huan-chih (蘇煥) announced on July 29 he's running as an independent. 8 others also registered by the September 2 deadline.
It's hard to say what effect Huang would have on the race -- the TPP under Ko has moved toward the bluer end of the political spectrum, so my prior before seeing any polls was that her presence would hurt Chiang more. But Ko Wen-je also won two terms as mayor by appealing to young, green-leaning and independent voters; if Huang is able to draw support from these same blocs, as some polls are showing she might, perhaps it's Chen Shih-chung who is hurt more. At this point, with Huang not even formally in the race yet, my guess is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Result: KMT gain. Chiang Wan-an wins, 42.3-32.0-25.1%. CEC official results are here.
New Taipei - 新北市
KMT: Renominated incumbent mayor Hou You-yi (sometimes spelled Hou Yu-yih 侯友宜).
DPP: Nominated Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) on July 10.
Result: KMT hold. Hou You-yi wins 62.4-37.6%.
Taoyuan - 桃園市
KMT: Nominated Simon Chang (Chang San-cheng 張善政), the party's 2020 VP candidate and former premier for a brief period at the end of the Ma administration.
DPP: Nominated Lin Chih-chien (林智堅), the incumbent mayor of Hsinchu City; Lin withdrew from the race on August 12, and the DPP announced legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) would run instead.
Others: Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶), a TPP party-list legislator, is also running. Former DPP legislator Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) declared on August 27. No others.
Update 8.12: At this point, replacing Lin with Cheng probably helps the DPP. At the least, Cheng is from Taoyuan, and the switch happened early enough that he should be able to run a competitive campaign. The controversy over Lin's plagiarism cases was becoming a huge distraction for the party.
Update 8.27: Cheng Pao-ching's entry into the race complicates what has already become a difficult election for the DPP here. With the TPP's Lai not getting much traction in polls, Chang San-cheng now appears to have the edge.
Update 10.26: Leans KMT. A month out from the election, and Simon Chang keeps holding on to a significant lead in polls, although well short of 50%. The TPP's Lai hasn't made any headway, so this is trending in the opposite direction from Hsinchu City with the KMT the likely beneficiary of strategic voting, while Cheng Pao-ching appears to be pulling enough of the vote to doom Cheng Yun-peng. Rating change to Leans KMT.
Result: KMT gain. Simon Chang wins 52.0-40.0%.
Taichung - 台中市
KMT: Renominated incumbent mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕).
DPP: Nominated legislator and deputy LY speaker Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) on April 27.
Others: A third candidate, Chen Mei-fei (陳美妃) registered on the last day to run as an independent.
Update 10.26: Likely KMT. A month out from Election Day and this race hasn't moved much. Lu is looking much more popular, and Tsai worse, than I expected in August. Polls keep showing this race to be more like the KMT's version of Tainan or Kaohsiung than a swing city. Rating change to Likely KMT.
Result: KMT hold. Lu Shiow-yen wins 59.3-38.9%.
Tainan - 台南市
KMT: Nominated city councilor Hsieh Lung-chieh (謝龍介) on March 23.
DPP: Renominated incumbent Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) (sometimes spelled Huang Wei-cher).
Others: Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信), a former TSU legislator, has entered the race as an independent. Three others, including 2018 candidate Lin Yi-feng (林義豐).
Result: DPP hold. Huang wins 48.8-43.6%.
Kaohsiung - 高雄市
KMT: Nominated former legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) on June 29.
DPP: Renominated incumbent mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).
Others: Two independent candidates.
Result: DPP hold. Chen Chi-mai wins 58.1-40.2%
This coming week is the 4th World Congress of Taiwan Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle campus. WCTS is the seminal gathering of academics and practitioners working in the Taiwan studies field. The first meeting was in 2012 in Taipei at Academia Sinica, the second in 2015 in London, and the third also at Academia Sinica in 2018. This meeting has been delayed a year because of the COVID pandemic -- well worth the wait, however, because we actually get to do this in person. For many of us this will be the first time seeing each other in almost three years.
How Democratic Is Taiwan? Evaluating 20 Years of Political Change
On Monday, June 27 I'm going to be presenting a new paper at the WCTS that attempts to evaluate the quality of democracy in Taiwan. The initial inspiration for this research was a talk that Larry Diamond gave in 2001, which provides a very useful snapshot of Taiwan's democratic strengths and weaknesses. Diamond highlighted five problem areas:
Here's the ranking and score for four prominent democracy indices used to rank overall quality of liberal democracy:
V-Dem is noticeably more negative than the other three on Taiwan (and much more positive on South Korea, for reasons that aren't clear to me.) So keep that in mind as we look at some of the V-Dem indicators below -- if there's systematic bias in the V-Dem estimates, they're probably too low rather than too high.
Political Corruption and Black Gold Politics
Here's the Varieties of Democracy indicator for vote-buying, 1969-2021, which shows some real improvement after 2015.
And here's V-Dem's political corruption score over the same time period. Almost imperceptible changes up to 2014, followed by real declines in corruption.
Rule of Law
Here's V-Dem's Rule of Law index, 1980-2021. Roughly similar pattern, with some improvement starting 2015, although V-Dem is pretty positive on the rule of law even in 2001...
Finally, here's V-Dem's political polarization measure. The trend here is counter-intuitive -- it shows the Chen Shui-bian era as not particularly polarized, and significantly less than the previous Lee Teng-hui era, followed by a further decline in polarization until 2013, then significant increases since then.
This looks weird to me -- I've long thought the CSB era was the peak for polarization, and that it has declined since then -- but that's what the data show.
I've put two other countries on here for reference -- compared to South Korea and the United States, Taiwan doesn't look especially polarized at any point in the last 20 years. So despite the increases on this indicator in recent years, political polarization doesn't look like the fundamental threat to democracy that Diamond worried it might be back in 2001.
What's It All Mean?
The paper has a lot more, but summarizing:
Finally, this paper was inspired partly by accusations coming from some quarters in Taiwan that it is now an "illiberal democracy" or "electoral autocracy" under President Tsai Ing-wen and the ruling DPP. I wrote a blog post last December rebutting some of these accusations; this paper builds on the data and arguments there. The conclusion is the same: you really have to stretch to argue that Taiwan is in democratic decline. Most of the data point in the other direction: Taiwan's democratic system has addressed many of its most serious weaknesses since 2001, and even since 2015.
On behalf of The Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific Region (PTIP) and its National Security Task Force, the Hoover Institution invites you to Taiwanese at the UN: The Use and Abuse of UN Resolution 2758 on Tuesday, May 31, 2022 from 11:30am-12:45pm PDT.
In 1971, UN Resolution 2758 granted the seat occupied by the Republic of China in the General Assembly and the Security Council to the People's Republic of China (PRC). In recent years, the PRC has attempted to reinterpret this resolution as an endorsement of its "One China Principle," and it has promoted the fallacy that UN member states came to a determination that Taiwan was a part of the PRC. Yet, as the historical official records show, member states made no such determination about Taiwan's international status.
This effort around Resolution 2758 is part of a broader campaign by the PRC to expand its influence in UN-affiliated bodies. Taiwan remains the foremost target of this campaign. Since 2016, at Beijing's behest, Taiwanese representatives have been blocked from participating even as observers in international organizations such as the World Health Assembly (WHA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The PRC has institutionalized and normalized its stance on Taiwan within these organizations by signing secret agreements, restricting the access of Taiwan nationals to the UN and its facilities, and embedding PRC nationals across various levels of UN staff. The UN and its specialized agencies have not made the texts of these agreements available to the public or to any entity beyond the main signatories, though leaked guidance memos provide insights into the scope of MOU contents.
In this event, Jessica Drun will discuss Beijing’s efforts to “internationalize” its “One China Principle" and to conflate it with UN Resolution 2758. Her remarks will draw on a recent report, co-authored with Bonnie Glaser of the German Marshall Fund, that documents Beijing’s expanding influence in UN-linked organizations. She will be joined by Chih-Fu Yeh, a PhD candidate in biology at Stanford University, who in December 2020 was improperly barred from joining a UNESCO-backed winter school session because of his Taiwanese nationality. Mr. Yeh will describe his own experience and highlight how overly strict interpretations of UN regulations and guidelines continue to impose real costs on Taiwanese citizens.
Jessica Drun is a Nonresident Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub. She has also held positions in the defense contracting space and the National Bureau of Asian Research. Ms. Drun specializes in cross-Strait relations, Taiwan politics, and U.S.-Taiwan relations and regularly provides commentary on these issues. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
Chih-Fu Yeh is a PhD candidate studying microbial community ecology and evolution in Department of Biology at Stanford University. He was born and raised in Taiwan. In Winter 2020, Chih-Fu applied to a ICTP/UNESCO winter school session on quantitative systems biology, and was denied permission to attend the event because of his Taiwanese nationality.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022 from 4:30 - 5:45 pm PT, the Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific (PTIP) at the Hoover Institution will host a special event examining Taiwan's acute dependence on foreign energy imports. The event will be online and is free and open to the public. Please register at the event page.
In 2020, 93 percent of the energy consumed in Taiwan came from imported fossil fuels: oil, coal, and liquid natural gas. Taiwan’s government is also phasing out nuclear power, with the last nuclear generation unit scheduled to be shut down in 2025. This overwhelming reliance on imports is at odds with Taiwan’s pledges to reduce its carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. It also presents a serious security vulnerability: a prolonged disruption of energy supplies could quickly bring Taiwan’s economy to a halt, including its strategically important semiconductor industry.
In this event, three experts on Taiwan’s energy policies will discuss Taiwan’s changing energy mix, its ambitious plans for developing renewable energy sources and lessening dependence on imports, and how Taiwan’s exclusion from important international energy bodies such as the International Energy Agency adds to its energy security challenges.
Ker-hsuan Chien is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Technology Management at National Tsing Hua University. Her research focuses on the socio-technical aspects of the energy transition in Taiwan. She is particularly interested in how the state’s industrial policies, the pressures from international corporate governance, and the materiality of the electric power system co-shape the path of Taiwan’s energy transition.
Kuan-Ting Chen (he/him) is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Taiwan NextGen Foundation, a Taipei and Chiayi-based think tank working to make Taiwan more sustainable, diverse, and inclusive. Previously, he served as the Deputy Spokesperson and Chief Research Officer at Taipei City Government. In this position, he worked to strengthen Taipei's national and international standing, formulated methods to realize public policy objectives, researched and generated activism for new policy directions, and initiated the Taipei City Government’s international internship program.
Marcin Jerzewski (he/him) currently serves as the Taipei Office Analyst at the European Values Center for Security Policy and Research Fellow at the Taiwan NextGen Foundation. Committed to public scholarship, Marcin is also a contributor to the China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe platform of the Czech Association for International Affairs and a fellow of the BEBESEA (Building Better Connections between East and Southeast Asia) collective. As a scholar of Taiwan-Europe relations, he is a frequent commentator in Taiwanese and international media, including the BBC, Focus Taiwan, The Guardian, RTÉ, and Voice of America.
On April 6, Phillip Saunders of National Defense University spoke about PLA modernization and its implications for Taiwan's defense strategy and U.S.-Taiwan security cooperation. The talk abstract is below; the video is now available at the Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific event page.
Drawing upon the new book Crossing the Strait: China’s Military Prepares for War with Taiwan, Dr. Saunders will discuss China’s available military options, how organizational reforms and new capabilities have improved the PLA’s ability to execute these options, the current cross-strait military balance, the challenges China would face in trying to resolve the Taiwan issue by force, and how Beijing weighs military, economic, and political factors in its evolving Taiwan policy calculus. His presentation will draw upon extensive open-source analysis of PLA efforts to build the necessary power projection capabilities and discuss how lessons learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may affect thinking in China, Taiwan, and the United States.
Featuring Phillip C. Saunders Director, Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs National Defense University, followed by conversation with Kharis Templeman, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
I am a political scientist with research interests in democratization, elections and election management, parties and party system development, one-party dominance, and the links between domestic politics and external security issues. My regional expertise is in East Asia, with special focus on Taiwan.