Taiwan Political System
Short for TW by Abbreviationfinder, Taiwan has in practice been independent since 1949 but does not have international law status as its own country. Taiwan’s Constitution, or the “Constitution of the Republic of China” as it is officially called, dates from 1947. It is based on democratic principles and written to apply to all of China. During the dictatorship 1949–1987 it was put out of play by military laws. Subsequently, a number of changes have been made to adapt the constitution to the Taiwanese reality.
In Taiwan, there is a mix between presidential rule and parliamentaryism. Alongside the president are five yuan, about council or assembly. Parliament is the legislative yuan, and the government executive yuan. Furthermore, there is the legal yuan, which is the country’s highest judicial body and serves as a constitutional court. The controlling yuan reviews the work of the government and the public administration, while the investigative yuan examines the appointments and promotions of the officials. The latter yuan is a modern variant of the many-century-old Chinese tradition of imperial bureaucracy with its strict degree and appointment rules.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Taiwan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The President has great powers and, among other things, appoints the Prime Minister without Parliament’s approval. However, Parliament has great influence over government policy and can cast a government vote of no confidence. The President can in turn dissolve Parliament. The distribution of power has remained somewhat unclear despite constitutional changes.
Since 1996, the president is directly elected by the people for a four-year term with the possibility of re-election. Since 2008, Parliament has also been elected for four years. The number of members was halved at the same time, from 225 to 113. Of these seats, 73 are elected in one-person constituencies while 34 are distributed proportionally between the parties that have received at least five percent of the votes. Of the 34, half must be occupied by women. The remaining six mandates are reserved for representatives of indigenous peoples. Voting rights apply from the age of 20.
Taiwan’s predominant domestic and foreign policy issue is its relationship with the People’s Republic of China. There has long been a dividing line across Taiwanese society: between “independence leaders” supporting Taiwan’s independence and “nationalists” who adhere to the “China” principle, which includes both mainland China and Taiwan. Today, however, according to opinion polls, a majority of Taiwanese do not want to reunite with China, but maintain the current state of Taiwan as a de facto state.
The Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT or Guomindang) is the large party in the camp that has been more reunification friendly. Founded on the mainland in the early 1900s, KMT dominated Taiwan’s political life for over four decades after escaping to the island under General Chiang Kai-shek (see Modern History). Until 1987, the party was the only one allowed. It retained its grip on power until 2000 and returned to office in 2008, when the party also gained a large majority in parliament. The party could remain in power even after the 2012 elections, but in the 2016 election it lost by a large margin. It also suffered a loss in the 2020 elections.
The nationalist-friendly blue alliance has also included two breakout groups from KMT: the Party First People (People First Party, PFP), and the small New Party (New Party, NP).
The largest in the opposite camp is the Democratic Progress Party (Democratic Progressive Party, DPP). It was formed as early as 1986, the year before the party ban was lifted. The DPP consisted of many “native” Taiwanese unlike KMT, which was dominated by the Chinese migrating from the mainland after 1949. The DPP’s main issue, besides democratization, was Taiwan’s independence from the outset and a no-no for reunification with the Chinese mainland. However, when the party held the presidential power in 2000-2008, neither President Chen Shui-bian nor the DPP members of parliament wanted to provoke China with a unilateral declaration of independence. It was content to gently emphasize Taiwan as its own entity in an international context. In the January 2016 elections, the party withdrew the presidential post and also won an absolute majority in the legislative assembly. The party also retained government power in the 2020 elections.
DPP included in the “green alliance” with the Taiwan Solidarity Union (Taiwan Solidarity Union, TSU), which was established in 2001. Behind this grouping is the former president and former KMT leader Lee Teng-hui. It was the Taiwan-born Lee who seriously, albeit cautiously and pragmatically, set course for an independent Taiwan. When he resigned in 2000, after twelve years as president, he was expelled from KMT.
A party that wants to stand outside the two informal party alliances and did not want to take a position on the issue of independence is -Party Solidarity Union (Non-Partisan Solidarity Union), which was established in 2004. The party usually still belong to the blue alliance.
In September 2015 formed a new party, the New Power Party (New Power Party, NPP). The party wanted to establish itself as a third force outside of both alliances and had emerged from the so-called Sunflower Movement that occupied the parliament building in the spring of 2014 (see Modern History). NPP became the third largest party in the 2016 parliamentary elections.
In 2019 a new party was also formed of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), which wanted to be an alternative to the DPP’s green bloc and KMT blue alliance.
Giant pandas become a Chinese gift
China donates two giant pandas to Taiwan, which is seen as a sign of the improved contacts.
Increased contact with China
New agreements are reached between China-Taiwan. The parties agree, among other things, to open connections for cargo vessels between ports in Taiwan and China and to increase the number of direct flights. In addition, the parties decide to exchange warnings when it comes to food safety.
Shui-bian suspected of embezzlement
Chen Shui bian is taken in for questioning by police. He is suspected of embezzling state funds and is jailed pending formal prosecution.
Protests against the President
The opposition is holding a mass demonstration in Taipei against President Ma Ying-jeou. The protesters are protesting against the rapid approach to the Beijing regime, including the opening of direct air services between Taiwan and the mainland in the same month.
Air traffic agreement
An agreement is reached between China and Taiwan to allow regular air charter services between the areas.
Corruption investigation begins
A prosecutor opens an investigation to find out whether ex-President Chen Shui-bian, who now no longer has prosecutorial immunity, is guilty of corruption.
Kuomintang’s party leader in China
Kuomintang Party leader Wu Poh-hsiung visits China and meets several high-ranking politicians, including President Hu Jintao. The visit was the first made by a Taiwanese party leader since 1949.
Summit with China
Chinese President Hu Jintao meets Vincent Siew, Taiwan’s new vice president. It is the first meeting since 1949 at such a high level. The meeting will be a success and a starting point for an upcoming dialogue and economic cooperation between the countries.
Ma Ying-jeou becomes new president
KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou wins presidential election against DPP candidate Frank Hsieh. Ma Ying-jeou takes over as president. As fewer than half of the electorate participated in the two referendums on UN membership, the result is declared invalid.
Referenda are announced
The Election Commission announces that two referendums will be held in connection with the presidential election on March 22. One of the votes concerns DPP’s proposal to apply for UN membership under the name Taiwan. The other, supported by Kuomintang, suggests that Taiwan should try to be included in the UN in a “pragmatic and flexible” way, under the name that is considered most appropriate.
The Nationalist Party wins parliamentary elections
The Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) wins the parliamentary election. President Chen Shui-bian resigns as leader of the Democratic Progress Party (DPP).