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Yu, "Political party transformation in the context of nation-state democratization: The case of the Kuomintang (KMT) in Taiwan," 1997

USC Dissertation in History.
August 26, 2009

Hsiao-Yun Yu, Ph.D.

Abstract (Summary)
For forty-seven years, Taiwan was a one-party authoritarian state under the control of the Kuomintang (KMT), which Chiang Kai-shek installed after the 1949 communist revolution in mainland China. In 1986, Chiang's son Chiang Ching-kuo, who had become head of state on the death of elder Chiang in 1978, initiated a series of reforms that ushered in multiparty politics. By 1996, with the first popular presidential election in five thousand years of Chinese history, Taiwan's democratic opening was said to have been complete. While the KMT was the prime mover of political reform in Taiwan, it remained in control of executive government and retained an absolute parliamentary majority through these years. As political pluralism transformed Taiwan, the KMT changed, too--in party ideology, structure, membership, and political role. As democratization continues to unfold, the party is likely to continue to change. This study explores the interplay of Taiwan's journey of democratization and the behavior of the KMT as a political institution. It examines whether the KMT participates in good-faith efforts to strengthen the institutions of democracy in Taiwan, or can be seen as engaged in a constant fight for absolute one-party political control. Looking toward the future, it asks if the KMT will respond creatively to the vicissitudes of a competitive political environment or weaken from within, succumbing to internal factionalism. This study focuses on these issues, with comparative reference to two other cases of one-party rule in a context of democratic transition, the PRI in Mexico and the LDP in Japan. The findings of this study suggest that the institutionalization of democratic process within the KMT has to be the primary mission in the democratic transformation of both the KMT and Taiwan. As a predominant party, the KMT will have to behave as a responsible political institution (of good accountability, integrity, and credibility), in order to maintain its political power, as well as its governance longevity and legitimacy in Taiwan.

Advisor: Not listed