Political Parties in South Korea and Taiwan after Twenty Years of Democratization

Heike Hermanns

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    South Korea and Taiwan are often cited as successful cases of third-wave democracies where democracy has taken roots. However, electoral volatility is high and disenchantment among citizens is rising, especially regarding the performance of politicians and political parties. Since political parties play a vital role in the democratic process their institutionalization is seen as an indicator of democratic consolidation. An analysis of Taiwanese and South Korean parties in terms of age, organization and structure, as well as programs and leadership style of parties indicates that parties are weakly institutionalized. The Korean party system is a weak point in democratic deepening, as it is reminiscent of a carousel of party creations, mergers and dissolutions. Parties lack distinguishing ideological or programmatic markers and remain cadre parties, focusing on their charismatic leader and their home regions. In Taiwan, in contrast, aclear cleavage in the form of Taiwanese identity led to the appearance of two distinct political camps, each consisting of several parties. Taiwanese parties have progressed in their institutionalization in terms of longevity, organization and programmatic differences. However, membership numbers and party identification remain low and regular corruption scandals show the slow attitudinal change among Taiwanese politicians. In the light of politicians' behavior, citizens in both countries thus are feeling increasingly disenchanted with the ruling elite as well as the democratic system.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)205-224
    JournalPacific Focus
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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