Taiwan's Party Primaries in Comparative Perspective

Japanese Journal of Political Science 2 (1):23-45 (2001)
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There has been a lack of research into candidate selection outside the developed world. In this paper we attempt to fill this gap, with a detailed examination of the factors leading to the introduction of party primaries, their operations and their future prospects, in a third wave democracy, Taiwan. Although Taiwan is a late democratizer, the high degree of party institutionalization makes it more appropriate to compare its nomination system with those of older political parties, we particularly contrast it with the leading German and British political parties. Our discussion also finds many similar trends with developments of intra-party democracy in European parties, particularly in terms of a decentralization of candidate selection and reduced mediation between party centre and members. In addition, despite technical changes in electoral campaigning, parties in Taiwan have not abandoned the mass membership model. In Taiwan, direct primary elections have been a controversial subject. By analyzing relevant data, we argue that the core problem of the party primary was its lack of fairness, because party cadres tried to monopolize the candidate selection and thus failed to remain neutral. We find signs that leaders in all parties are wary of allowing inner party democracy to go too far and losing their control over nomination. When the party centre fears the wrong candidates will be selected, they are prepared to manipulate the rules in their favour or re-centralize the selection process



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