What is at stake in Taiwan’s January 2020 presidential elections?

While Taiwan is often hailed as one of the most advanced democracies in Asia, this democracy is still quite young as the island only emerged from a harsh dictatorship a little over 30 years ago. Thus large questions of what should be its political, social, economic, environmental, and cultural model dominate the political debate and surge during elections.

Taiwan started its democratic transition in the late 1980s. In 1986, the first opposition party to the dominating Kuomintang (KMT) party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was established and allowed to run for local elections that same year. In July 1987, martial law was officially lifted, after it had been in place for nearly forty years. Subsequently, media outlets were allowed to operate freely, and multi-partyism became a regular feature of Taiwanese political life. Since then, Taiwanese society has been actively exploring different models of development — a process that continues to this day.

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