Populism is a trend in politics, but in terms of rigorous academic definitions, is there populism in Taiwan? The Internet is a hotbed of populism. This study analyzes big data on the Internet to understand the situation regarding populism in Taiwan. This research proposes the keywords and four aspects of populism on the basis of theory, supplemented by the populism keywords that actually appear on the Internet, and proposes keywords to observe the measurement of online populism, which is an important contribution of this paper to research on populism.
Populism has the characteristics of “people-centrism,” but unlike democratic politics, it encompasses “attacking the elites,” “ostracizing others” and “invoking the heartland.” When these four aspects occur at the same time, populism can be said to be prevalent. Overall, during the research period of this paper, “attacking elites” had more than 7 million voices, with most voices coming from all four sides, followed by“ostracizing others,” “people-centrism” and “invoking the heartland.” All four aspects of populism occur in relation to different issues. The common issues include the chaos of the nine-in-one election, the U.S. pork issue, and the ouster of Han Kuo-yu.
On the whole, “attacking the elites” and “ostracizing others” give rise to more voices, but if we observe individual issues, “attacking the elites” and “people-centrism” occur more frequently. Is there Populism in Taiwan? The simultaneous occurrence of “people-centrism” and “attacking the elites” cannot be underestimated. However, if a stricter definition is adopted, the general voice is “anti-elite” rather than “anti-establishment.” That is, although populism has many voices on the Internet, it will not undermine democracy.