John F. Copper


On Saturday November 29, 2014 voters in Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) went to the polls to cast ballots for mayors and city council members of the metropolitan cities, mayors and councilors of the counties and provincial cities, town- ship chiefs and councilors, aboriginal district chiefs and councilors, and borough and village chiefs. Sometimes called Taiwan’s “midterms”, these combined elections are held at four-year intervals, scheduled in between its national presidential/vice presidential and legislative elections. The midterms are now considered nearly as important as the latter elections, one of the reasons being as of 2014 all local elections are held at the same time.

Students of Taiwan’s elections viewed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), for reasons inherent in the party’s makeup and philosophy, perennial disunity, and serious disagreements about the party’s stances toward China and the United States, as incapable of appealing to a broad segment of Taiwan’s electorate. This meant the KMT had an advantage.

However, the Kuomintang (KMT) appeared fully capable of losing the election as reflected by the performances of a number of its members in the legislature, President Ma and his administration’s low popularity, and what many considered its poor record in governance. In addition, serious factionalism and centrifugal tendencies plagued the Ma administration and the Nationalist Party, and both lost ground on important issues to voters such as economic management, corruption, political reform, and some other matters that influenced voters.

As the votes were counted, the media, election observers, and party leaders gave the victory with few caveats to the DPP and reported it was a loss for the KMT. In fact, most saw the election results as proof it was a big, even momentous, win for the DPP and a shellacking for the KMT. Many opined the election would have very profound consequences, including making it likely the DPP would win the 2016 election or elections. It would also impact relations with China and the United States. Finally, a majority of observers saw it as a plus for Taiwan’s democracy. This article evaluates these observations and predictions.