Judicial Independence Reform and the Breakdown of the Kuomintang Clientelism in Taiwan





Published date: 

June, 2006


Chin-Shou Wang


This paper tries to understand the role of judicial independent reform in the process of the breakdown of the Taiwanese clientelist system. The author argues that the decrease of coercion diminishes the ability of the authoritarian party to control and protect its brokers or local politicians. Democratization decreases the role of coercion in politics. The patrons cannot easily use coercion or the legal system to punish their brokers and clients any more after democratization. Without facing the threat of serious punishment, brokers and clients can easily defect from their patrons, challenge their authority, or demand more resources from their patrons. In the meantime, the patrons cannot easily use the judiciary to protect brokers’ and clients’ illegal activities. A more independent judiciary has had three effects politically on KMT clientelism. First, the KMT could not easily control and punish its maverick clientelist elites. Second, the corrupt clientelist elites’ prosecutions and subsequent verdicts caused the discontinuity of KMT local elites. Third, it became more difficult for the KMT to use a more independent judiciary to protect their clientelist elites’ vote-buying in elections. Without judicial protection, the KMT political machine could not function well.