John F. Copper


On Saturday January 16, 2016 voters in Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) went to the polls to cast ballots for candidates for president (and his or her running mate) and members of the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s lawmaking body of government). This was Taiwan’s fourteenth presidential election and its sixth wherein the electorate cast direct votes. It was the second that did not have an incumbent president or vice president in the race. It was the second election that resulted in a change of ruling parties. It was the first election to see the main opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), win a majority in the legislature.

The DPP candidate attained the presidency handily. Arguably just as important, the DPP won the legislative half of the election by a clear margin; this was somewhat unexpected. The two solid wins meant that the DPP became the party in control for the first time. This afforded the DPP with the good fortune of unimpeded governance and an opportunity to profoundly change Taiwan politically and in other ways.

Concerning the significance of this election, it is easy to make a case that it stands out among Taiwan’s many recent elections in a number of respects. This is true not only of the election results, but probably what lasting impact it will have.