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Title: The re-examination of Taiwan's democratisation : the KMT's factional politics and Taiwan's democratic transition
Author: Tsai, William
ISNI:       0000 0001 3536 9658
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1998
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The study of the movement toward political liberalisation and democratisation in Taiwan is exceptionally interesting. First, the KMT is the only example of a ruling Leninist party which has successfully transformed itself into a competitive party while in power. Second, the KMT is the only case of a Leninist party in a capitalist setting. Third, Taiwan's international political status is unique. Furthermore, the Taiwanese case raises broader theoretical issues about the process of democratisation. In particular, Taiwan's political development might also raises important comparative questions with those countries that are of one-party system and that have pursued similar development strategies. A variety of theories have been considered to study the origins and process of Taiwan's democratisation. Modernisation theory posits that Taiwan's democratic transition was a consequence of rapid economic growth and social change; the transition approach focuses on the institutional efforts of the political opposition; one form of democratisation theory emphasises the key role of an individual leader, in this case Chiang Ching-kuo; and the structural approach calls for attention to the analysis of external influence. However, most of the existing predominant theories in the study of Taiwan's democratisation only provide static analyses of Taiwan's movement toward democratisation. They seem insufficient to explain how Taiwan's democratic threshold was actually crossed As a result, this study is aimed at re-examining the origins and process of Taiwan's democratic transition through a different approach, i.e the factionalism approach, which primarily assumes a situation where political elites and political institutions rely exclusively upon clientelist ties to structure political action. My fundamental research hypothesis is: the change of the KMT's clientelist alliance relations with its institutional clients in the local units, i.e. local factions was the most crucial factor of Taiwan's democratisation. In other words, I presuppose that the key to Taiwan's democratic transition was the conflict and disunion within the KMT's ruling structure. The fracture of the clientelist alliance relations between the KMT and local factions in the late 1970s, when the KMT central authority adopted a faction replacement policy to reduce the overall power of local factions, provided fertile ground for the rise of the political opposition whose strategic interaction with the regime finally drove Taiwan toward democracy. Thus, this study focuses on the processes by which changes occurred in the clientelist alliance (patron-client) relations between the KMT and local factions as part of the movement toward democracy The factionalism approach leads to an investigation of the relationships among the KMT's mainlander ruling elites, among Taiwan's indigenous elites, and between the KMT regime and local factions. Through the analysis of changes of the clientelist relationships between the KMT and local elites, the questions of how the KMT's authoritarian rule over Taiwan could be maintained for four decades and how the democratic threshold in Taiwan was finally crossed can be explained This study offers a new as well as fresh contribution to the study of Taiwan's democratisation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DS Asia ; JA Political science (General) ; JQ Political institutions (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.)