Regular Issue

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Volume #11, Number #1

Published in June, 2007

This paper discusses political trust differences in three dimensions in Taiwan. Trust differences refer to people’s divergent trust attitudes toward politicians of different camps or their trust attitudes toward the executive and legislature branches under divided governments. Although trust differences are common in democracy, they constitute a more salient issue in Taiwan. The reason for this is mainly that, following the onset of democratization, divisions in national identity become the dominant theme in political competition. Such social cleavage induces people to mistrust political actors representing other ethnic groups, while making it easy for them to trust political actors within their own group. Hence, political trust differences are generated. Trust in one dimension is associated with trust in another dimension since parties form governments. Besides, who governs is likely to affect people’s evaluation of democracy and even democratic values. Those who vote for the Opposition wish to restrict the power of the ruling party, while voters who support the ruling party are against such a thought. In addition, this study also finds that people with firm opinions on Independence-Unification issues tend to embrace greater political trust differences. Empirical tests using surveys of the 1998 Legislative Yuan election and the 2003 TEDS support the theoretical predictions.

Chin-En Wu

Previous studies on voting participation used to model individuals’ utilities and duties as the forces driving their participation. It is assumed that people maximize their utilities when they turn out. In the 2004 referendum, there were many controversies as to how to exercise direct democracy as well as fierce partisan battles. It is thus necessary to analyze the determinants of voting in the referendum from the perspective of social psychology. There are few empirical studies on the 2004 referendum. Because data on party identification, a person’s position on the unification/independence issue, and democratic values were collected from among the general public, we used a path analysis model to isolate the factors influencing participation in the referendum. Our preliminary findings were that the evaluation of the referendum was influential, and that the democratic beliefs were not as effective as expected. Neither were the political efficacy or political trust as effective as expected. By contrast, party identification and a person’s position on the unification/independence issue were found to have a great impact on turnout in the referendum. The empirical evidence indicates that the referendum was marred by political controversies, and thus the ideal of direct democracy was not achieved.

Chia-Hung Tsai

The 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Missile Crisis was the most serious military and diplomatic conflict among the U.S., China and Taiwan in recent years. The worst possible scenario during the crisis was that China would wage a war with Taiwan that might drag the U.S into the war. The best possible scenario was that the Chinese military exercise was just a bluff. Why did a rising power (China) adopt a strategy of brinkmanship (military exercise) that targeted Taiwan? What were the reasons and international implications behind China’s military actions? Why did China choose to initiate the second missile exercise in 1996? Why could a superpower (the U.S.) not deter China from engaging in military exercises targeting Taiwan (deterrence failure)? This paper aims to answer these questions. The main findings are that the reason why China chose to show force was in order to enhance China’s own international status, the reason why the U.S. failed to deter China was because of its overcommitment in cooperating with China and low credibility in defending Taiwan, and the reason why China deliberately brought about the crisis was in order to increase its diplomatic influence.

Jung-Hsiang Tsai

There are two competing approaches, namely, the “Asian exceptionalism” and “Universalism,” in regard to the political economy of the Asian tigers. The former argues that authoritarianism based on the “Asian values” has performed better than the democratic regimes in terms of influencing the course of economic development and income distribution. By contrast, following the democratization of Korea and Taiwan, the universalism approach claims that the Asian experience is not exceptional at all. In this article, I apply the counterfactual treatment regression and the generalized method of moments (GMM) to estimate the effects of political transition using pooled panel data for four Asian tigers over the period 1975-2005. The statistical results indicate that, compared with the authoritarianism that characterizes Singapore and Hong Kong, the democratization of Taiwan and Korea did not reduce the real GDP growth rate. Moreover, the Gini coefficients for Taiwan and Korea were seen to exhibit a moderate declining because of democratization, while the Gini coefficients for Singapore and Hong Kong soared sharply. Therefore, in terms of growth and equality, the institutional performance of democracy is shown to be better than the institutional performance of authoritarianism in Asia. The evidence thus supports the arguments favoring universalism, which is related to the political philosophy that regards democracy as a “universal value.”

Thung-Hon Lin

Substantial research has been done in recent years to examine Taiwanese citizens’ sense of political efficacy. Previous literature assumes that the causal direction runs from efficacy to participation. No research has been conducted analyzing how political participation affects Taiwanese citizens’ sense of political efficacy. Neither is there any inquiry examining the impact of electoral outcomes on efficacy. Employing survey data collected by Taiwan’s Election and Democratization Study (TEDS) Project of 2004, this study treats political efficacy as the dependent variable and assesses the effects of voting and campaign activity. The empirical findings indicate that voter turnout per se does not contribute to the island citizens’ efficacious attitudes. It is the act of voting and campaigning for winning candidates that are associated with increased external political efficacy, which suggests that election effects are a product of both participation and outcomes. Electoral participation, however, does not affect an individual’s sense of internal political efficacy at all.

Ching-Hsing Wang, Teh-Yu Wang