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Huang, "Taiwan's intergovernmental powers distribution: A historical and contextual analysis," 2001

USC Dissertation in Politics.
August 24, 2009

Shih Cho Huang, D.P.A.

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation examines Taiwan's distribution of intergovernmental powers between 1949 and 2000. It seeks to solve puzzles of Taiwan's intergovernmental relations by testing leading theories of regime authority and fifty years of historical development. Specifically, it analyzes the Kuomintang (KMT) party's actions as a principal that used Taiwan's governmental framework as its agent of power. This research probes the changing institutional path for redistribution of intergovernmental powers.

Taiwan's historical changes in the distribution of powers occurred in four major phases: 1949-1980s, 1980s-1994, 1994-1999, and 2000. These phases were shaped by varied contextual elements that are examined: roles of the political parties and their leaders, national policies for economic development, political democratization and Taiwanization, national identity, political processes of redistribution of powers, and political party rotation in governance.

Four major crises emerged during the four different phases of change in Taiwan's intergovernmental institutions. Economic crisis after 1949 altered the 1947 constitutional "equilibrium system" and turned Taiwan's intergovernmental framework into one of "semi-autonomous style" with centralized authoritarian control. An international and domestic legitimacy crisis followed, starting in the 1970s. This challenged the KMT party's centralized control and initiated a series of democratic decentralization developments in the late 1980s. Conflicts between long-term centralized control and democratic decentralization resulted in a rationality crisis that included a structural conflict between the central and provincial governments from 1996 to 1999. Finally, a motivation crisis arose out of proposals in 2000 for changes of intergovernmental institutions that reduced local elites' influence.

Findings from the study help to construct a narrative analysis and graphic portrayals for changes of Taiwan's intergovernmental institutions. Taiwan's intergovernmental framework was constructed by the KMT and its agent, the central government, for controlling local governments through local elites. This institutional framework was impacted by two opposing forces: democratic decentralization and a "lock-in" effect from historical successes. This research concludes with analyses of these structural crises and future prospects arising in 2000 out of conflicts between forces influencing Taiwan's changing intergovernmental institutions.

Advisor: Not listed