Strategic Party Choices in Emergent Democracies: Taiwan's 2008 Legislative Election

Hans Stockton, Fiona Yap

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Parties instrumentally shape or realign electoral support in competitive elections to underpin a vigorous party system. Assessing whether parties are strategic versus ignorant, then, is essential to the viability of the parties and particularly relevant in emergent democracies to eliminate unfounded biases against ignorant parties. The dramatic, lopsided results of Taiwan's 2008 legislative elections following electoral reform are particular useful in this regard: they suggest that the Kuomintang's Pan Blue coalition was strategic while the Democratic Progressive Party's Pan Green coalition failed to be strategic. We contradict this, using simulated electoral results and a strategic interaction model. This paper makes three contributions: first, it adds to a limited literature that considers parties influence, particularly parties' strategic actions. Party-centric explanations are rare so that when results are highly disproportionate, the question of whether party choices are strategic versus ignorant adds an important dimension to clarifying how the party realigns electoral support or influences political development. Second, through multiple methodologies - simulated electoral results, a game-theory strategic interaction model, and reports on-the-ground in Taiwan - the results show that parties' expectation of the other camp's strategy informed party choices, i.e., parties were strategic. Third, in revealing how parties were strategic, the paper reveals the basis of continued vitality of parties in Taiwan and other emergent democracies to broaden treatments in assessing party viability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)219-237
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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