Election Taiwan 2024

APF Canada has published a Dispatch on the main issues and potential outcomes of this weekend’s elections in Taiwan. 

The piece is a view from the ground, co-authored by Distinguished Fellow Dr. Yves Tiberghien (who’s been based in Taiwan for the last few months) and Chung-min Tsai, professor of political science at the National Chengchi University and at the Taipei School of Economics and Political Science. 

The presidential election will see three candidates face off in a one-round, winner-takes-all vote:

•    Lai Ching-te, from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP, or ‘green camp’), is the current vice-president. He’s the favourite to win. 

•    His main challenger is Hou Yu-ih, from the long-time former ruling party Kuomintang (KMT, or ‘blue camp’). 

•    The third candidate is former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP, or ‘white camp’).

Tiberghien and Tsai write that “despite the sensational external rhetoric on the risks of massive interference or conflict, the mood on the ground is one of resilience.” 

Taiwanese voters harbour concerns about geopolitics and cross-strait relations, of course, but bread-and-butter domestic issues — especially stagnating incomes, expensive rents and real estate, energy insecurity, and economic inequality — may ultimately determine the outcome of the election. 

The final days of the campaign could be volatile. Roughly 15 per cent of voters are still undecided, and some TPP supporters may resort to ‘strategic voting,’ throwing their weight behind either the DPP (i.e. their former home) or the KMT for economic reasons or due to incumbency fatigue. 

In the legislative race, a majority isn’t likely for any party, according to Tiberghien and Tsai, but the KMT is set to win 50–55 seats. That would put the party just short of the majority threshold of 57. 

The DPP expects to secure 40–48 seats (down from 61 before the election). Those results would turn the TPP into a ‘kingmaker’ in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan.

The next few days will be crucial, as Taiwan’s elections often get decided in the last few days in response to late-breaking news, say Tiberghien and Tsai. The DPP, for example, is concerned that the Chinese Communist Party may interfere in the elections, using fake news and misinformation to sow discord and disorder among voters. But the two authors note Taiwanese voters’ penchant for keeping calm and carrying on, even as the discourse darkens outside of Taiwan. 

APF Canada’s Karen Hui has penned a useful policy guide for each presidential candidate, analyzing the three leaders’ views on cross-strait relations, the economy, energy, housing, and more. 

You can read her piece here