Empowerment Theory and Voting Behavior: The 2001 County Magistrate/City Mayoral and Legislative Yuan Elections in Taiwan





Published date: 

June, 2003


Chung-li Wu
Yin-yin Tan
Shih-hung Lee


This work aims at examining the contextual effects of “political empowerment” upon voting behavior in Taiwan. Different from the regional classifications developed in preceding literature (e.g., vote percentage of party or candidate, administrative boundary, degree of modernization, or divided and unified government), this research employs and modifies “empowerment theory” of the (ethnic/racial) minority politics to account for the shifting electoral fortunes of the Kuomingtang (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). We take advantage of the 2001 Taiwan’s Election and Democratization Study (TEDS 2001) survey data and examine whether different empowerment areas exert significant impacts on voting behavior in the 2001 elections to the Legislative Yuan and county magistrates and city mayors. The methodology adopted in this study involves two steps. The first approach is the use of cross-tabulation analyses, and the second method employs the multinomial logit model in order to evaluate the simultaneous effects of independent variables on dependent variable. As hypothesized, the results indicate that the contextual effects of "political empowerment" still emerge as statistically significant for accounting voting choices even as party identifications and other explaining variables are taken into account. The findings demonstrate that constituents in high-DDP-empowerment areas—as indicated by control of the mayor’s/magistrate’s office—tend to vote for DPP candidates than those living in low-DDP-empowerment areas, and vice versa. In the conclusion, we review the major findings and limitations of this study and compare the research approaches of “empowerment theory” and “political geography.”