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Inter-party competition in taiwan: Two decades of change and continuity



Dafydd Fell and Chung-li Wu Despite talk of a decline in the importance of political parties in modern democracies, parties remain essential players in the political process of liberal democracies. E.E. Schattschneider's c o m m e n t that, "modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of political parties," still rings true over sixty years after the publication of his work Party Government. ~ Parties continue to play a critical role in recruiting political leaders, nominating electoral candidates, structuring public debate and organizing government. There is also a consensus among political scientists that institutionalized political parties are a prerequisite for democratic consolidation. 2 However, many of the newer democracies associated with the Third Wave of Democratization, in Samuel Huntington's terminology, have failed to develop such strong political parties. 3 Instead parties are often the personal tool of charismatic politicians, do not offer distinctive policy appeals and lack mass membership structures. With weak party identification among both politicians and voters party splits and mergers are unsurprisingly common. The prevalence of inchoate party systems in many new democracies has made their path towards democratic consolidation highly problematic. As Taiwan began its democratic transition in the late 1980s, it also



East AsiaSpringer Journals

Published: Mar 1, 2006

DOI: 10.1007/s12140-006-0001-6

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