In the January 14, 2012, elections, Taiwanese voters faced a choice between giving a second term to Ma Ying-jeou—who has pursued a policy of closer economic ties and broader rapprochement with the Mainland and who has drawn criticism for lackluster leadership, economic inequality and drawing to close to the PRC—and Tsai Ing-wen—whom Beijing and opponents in Taiwan portray as reckless proponent of independence and a threat to the economic gains achieved or promised by Ma’s policies. In voting for a legislature—for the first time held jointly with the presidential election, the Taiwanese electorate face a similar choice between retaining a supermajority for Ma’s KMT or giving Tsai’s DPP a larger share.
FPRI Senior Fellows Shelley Rigger, Vincent Wang, Terry Cooke and Jacques deLisle assess the elections’ meaning and implications: Why did the winners win and the losers lose? What does the outcome portend for cross-Strait relations during the next four years? What is likely to be the impact on U.S. policy toward, and relations with, Taipei and Beijing? What are the implications for the future of Taiwan’s democracy and for the significant economic, social and foreign policy decisions Taiwan’s government faces in the near term?
Shelley Rigger is the Brown Professor of East Asian Politics at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. She has a PhD in Government from Harvard University and a BA in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. She has been a visiting researcher at National Chengchi University in Taiwan (2005) and a visiting professor at Fudan University in Shanghai (2006). Rigger is the author of two books on Taiwan’s domestic politics: Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy (Routledge 1999) and From Opposition to Power: Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (Lynne Rienner Publishers 2001). She has published articles on Taiwan’s domestic politics, the national identity issue in Taiwan-China relations and related topics. Her current research studies the effects of cross-strait economic interactions on Taiwan people’s perceptions of Mainland China. Her monograph, “Taiwan’s Rising Rationalism: Generations, Politics and ‘Taiwan Nationalism’” was published by the East West Center in Washington in November 2006.
Vincent Wang is Professor of Political Science and Chairman of the Department at the University of Richmond, specializing in international political economy and Asian studies. He has been a Visiting Professor or Fellow at National Chengchi University (Taipei), National Sun-Yat-sen University (Kaohsiung, Taiwan), El Colegio de Mexico, and Institute for Far Eastern Studies, Kyungnam University (Seoul, South Korea). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His latest and forthcoming publications cover the China-India rivalry, the rise of China, and China-Taiwan relations.
Terry Cooke is a Senior Fellow in FPRI’s Asia Program and the principal director of GC3 Strategy, Inc., an international consultancy specializing in sustainability-related technologies and capital linkages between Asia and the U.S. Previously, Dr. Cooke was Director of Asian Partnership Development for the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. He has advised the Lauder Institute on global business outreach as a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School’s Department of Management. Dr. Cooke was a career-member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, with postings in Taipei, Berlin, Tokyo and Shanghai.
Jacques deLisle is Director of FPRI’s Asia Program and Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in US-China relations, Chinese politics and legal reform, cross-strait relations, and the international status of Taiwan.