A Preliminary Exploration of Local Political Change in Taiwan—To Compare Taiwanese local leaders’ backgrounds and views between 1993 and 2001





Published date: 

December, 2002


Da-chi Liao


This paper explores political change at the local level in Taiwan during the process of rapid democratization since the mid-1980’s. Three related questions are raised: what changes occurred in Taiwan’s local politics during this period; did these changes on the whole manifest a stable or a non-stable outcome? Finally, did all these changes point to a democratic direction?

This paper employs both Huntington’s theory regarding political change and propositions derived from the literature related to democratization. The data used by this paper were gleaned from a two-wave survey of Taiwanese local leaders (1993-2001). The preliminary findings are: local politics in Taiwan, indeed, have been undergoing some substantial changes during this period.

Relatively speaking, the scope of the changes in leadership, policy and group dynamics has been much broader than that of political structure and culture. The rate of change, in the former three areas also appears to have been a lot faster than that of the latter two. On the whole, the phenomenon of local political change in Taiwan in the last 15 years or so signifies more a “stable” one, in Huntington’s terms, than a non-stable one. The direction of local political change in Taiwan has also been democratic during the same period.