Regular Issue

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Volume #4, Number #1

Published in December, 2000

In this paper, the 1999 European (Parliament) election has been used to test relevant theories on elections. European elections have been regarded as second-order elections for decades. The 1999 European election is no exception, because it fulfills three defined characteristics of second-order election at the macro level. These Characteristics are (1) lower turnouts than those of general elections, (2) massive defeat of incumbent parties and relative success of minor parties, and (3) the impact of national electoral cycle on the result of European election. However, at the micro level, data drawn from “Eurobarometers” do not confirm the micro-level hypothesis of second-order election thesis. Without adequate information, individual voters do not know whether the power of European Parliament is greater or smaller than that of their national parliament. Therefore, voters have no bases to make any subjective judgement with regard to whether European election is more or less important than national election. On the contrary, it is politicians, media, and parties, who know better the stake of European election that, make no effort to mobilize voters to vote. As a result, turnout rates are generally lower. Some evidence in the 1999 European election has pointed to this “party mobilization hypothesis.” In addition to verifying second-order election thesis, the author shows that constituency magnitude does affect election result. The 1999 European election in the UK confirms Rae’s hypothesis, namely, the larger the constituency magnitude, the more minor-party candidates elected in the constituency. However Labor’s massive defeat in the 1999 European election cannot entirely be attributed to the new electoral system. On the contrary, Labour may lose more seats had it not for the new regional PR list system. Finally, the author provides evidence to reject any correlation between the value of Euro and the outcome of the 1999 European election.

David Wei-feng Huang

The phenomenon of divided government-that is, the executive and legislative branches are controlled by different political parties-has become daily reality in Taiwan’s notional and local politics. Yet it receives relatively little attention from a comparative perspective. In the literature, scholars tend to disagree with each other concerning whether divided government leads to policy gridlock, stalemate and inefficiency. This study attempts to shed some light on this important issue by exploring the effects of city/county-level divided government on local residents’ perception of their mayor/magistrate in Taiwan. We take advantage of a 1998 survey data set of the public’s evaluations of city/county government performance and examine if different forms of divided government affect residents’ responses. Our findings indicate that those residents in cities or counties under divided governments express more negative views only on three out of six indicators, although their party identification also seems to be an important intervening variable in shaping their opinion. It seems to imply that divided government at the local level does not necessarily suffer from stalemate between the executive and legislative branches.

Chi Huang, Chung-li Wu

Democratic transition has been one of the most researched topics in the American political science in the past several decades. As Taiwanese politics was transformed in the late 1980’s to democracy, the case also gained wide attention from both the American and local scholars. This paper points out that the literature on democratic transition in Taiwan case, some have followed too closely, or applied indiscreetly, the arguments of American political scientists in explaining Latin American cases. Secondly, others have given too much credit to the role of the dictator Jiang Jing-guo. These two flaws resulted in a distortion of historical reality and also the overlook of an important factor: the role of political idealism and the effort motivated by that idealism on the part of the mass and activists in democratic struggle.

This paper also discusses the problems of an assumption about human Political behavior in the mainstream American political science, namely the rational choice model. The model by giving no place to the role of value and idealism in human political behaviors fails to explain the pivotal role of human agency in many political and social transformations. Taking the case of Taiwan as an example, this paper shows how the idealism on the part of the common people and activists in the democratic movement has contributed to the great political transformation. After the severe repression on the democratic movement In 1979, the unexpected growth of the movement has removed the option .of repression by the authoritarian regime. A deJ110cratic compromise thus was achieved.

Naiteh Wu

Taiwan’s democratization is fundamentally election-driven. This article analyzes how Taiwan’s electoral competition has brought about dramatic changes in party system at the elite and mass levels. On the one hand, electoral opening provides political elite an institutional channel to organize and mobilize the people. On the other hand, the people’s sociopolitical attributes also mold the elite’s perception, calculations and interactions through the electoral process. The first part of the paper introduces the configuration of Taiwan’s new party system and points out that electoral competition has given rise to a moderate multiparty system, with supporters of major parties exhibiting distinct sociopolitical characteristics. Part two explores factors that have shaped Taiwan’s party system, including preexisting social cleavages, electoral rules, and political elite’s mobilization strategy. Part three examines the functioning of the new party system, especially how party coalitions and counter-coalitions are formed during legislative processes and how the general public perceives the differences of the major parties. The conclusion discusses the implication of this new party system for Taiwan’s democratic future.

Chia-lung Lin