The strong showing of the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) was the most surprising development in the legislative elections on Saturday last week and was a demonstration of the continuing influence of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), US academic Shelly Rigger said.
Rigger, a professor of East Asian politics at Davidson College in North Carolina, said in a video conference that in the 2008 legislative elections, the party vote determining “at-large” seats went nearly exclusively to the two major political parties — the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
This year, however, two minority parties — the TSU and the People First Party (PFP) — picked up enough votes to earn legislator-at-large seats, she said.
Rigger said she was most surprised by the TSU’s ability to secure nearly 9 percent of the party vote, nearly double the 5 percent a party needs to be eligible for at-large seats.
The KMT secured 44.55 percent of the party vote, while the DPP won 34.62 percent and the PFP 5.48 percent.
The result showed that Lee, the TSU’s spiritual leader, still had considerable influence in Taiwanese politics, she said.
She said that Lee’s appearance at a DPP election campaign rally for the party’s presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), on election eve helped drum up support for both the DPP and the TSU.
Also at the conference, Richmond University political science professor Vincent Wang said that while the Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections proceeded peacefully and orderly, there was still room for improvement.
For example, Taiwan needs to set up an absentee voting system, he said, citing the low turnout in remote areas or outlying islands like Kinmen.
The video conference was held by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a US think tank based in Philadelphia.