The Long Shadow of Taiwan's One-Party Legacy
320 pp., illustrated
Governance in Asia # 1
Available from NIAS Press worldwide
- Focuses on an under-explored area of democratic transitions, the empirical study of intensely politicized transitional societies.
- Argues that the continued strength of the old dominant political party following the transition from one-party rule carries the risk of structural politicization.
- Asks how we should grasp a situation where the political practices commonly associated with democracy, such as election campaigning and political media debate, jeopardize the sustainability of democratic politics by the way they are pursued.
- Describes how extreme politicization is the main internal threat to the sustainability of Taiwan’s democratic politics.
This book explores a relatively uncharted area of democratic transitions: the empirical study of intensely politicized transitional societies. In particular, it addresses the problems of protracted democratic transitions that occur when a one-party state has been incompletely dismantled.
Due to an initially smooth political transition from one-party authoritarianism to multi-party politics, Taiwan’s gradual process of democratization has been celebrated as one of the most successful cases of political transformation. However, this political transition was not completed and, especially since 2000 when the first non-Kuomintang president was elected, Taiwan has been marked by protracted political struggles together with an intense politicization of society that persists to this day.
In Taiwan, rather than supporting democracy, many of the political practices associated with representative democracy, such as election campaigning, political demonstrations, vote mobilization and political debate in the media, can appear to undermine the future sustainability of democratic politics through the ways in which they are pursued.
However, the book maintains that institutional flaws are not enough to explain the shortcomings of Taiwan’s democratic politics or those in other transitional democracies. The practices established before the political transition continue to affect politics after the transition. Thus, when an old dominant party like the Kuomintang continues to thrive even after the end of one-party rule, the process of political liberalization and transition contains within itself the seeds of structural politicization.
As such, not only does this study have empirical value – warning that extreme politicization is the main internal threat to the sustainability of Taiwan’s democratic politics – but also its analysis is pertinent to the situations of many other transitional democracies around the world. It will be of interest to scholars and students of Taiwanese, Mainland Chinese and East Asian politics, as well as to those concerned with political developments in other transitional societies.
Preface and acknowledgements xi
Note on Chinese characters and transliteration xv
1. Political transitions and politicization 1
Structural politicization • Transition interregnum • Chinese parties and the power-sharing problem
2. Historical origin and structure of the KMT system 29
The KMT’s turbulent mainland origin • Structure of the KMT political system and party • Organization and expansion of elections • Political changes after political liberalization
3. Power transition and the inherited power structure 79
The major battlefields • Scholars in power: changing political elite fortunes • Change of governing party and the bureaucracy • To party or not to party? • Political opportunism and party stability
4. Four cases of politicization 129
First blood: the nuclear power plant dispute • Legislative battles • Asymmetric integration and symbolic conflicts • Combining referenda and elections as a political strategy
5. Informal political structures and politicization 182
Building political support • Nested pyramid structures • Political cleavage and the patronage state • Zaoshi, psychological warfare and the theatrical side of politicization
6. Explaining Taiwan’s structural politicization 235
After the party • Back to China
I. Notes on methodological choices
II. R.O.C. constitutional amendments
III. R.O.C. presidents, premiers and vice-premiers
IV. Selected former academics who later pursued a political career
Formerly lecturing in world politics at the University of Helsinki, Dr Mattlin is a research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, specializing in Chinese politics.
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