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Title: Taiwan's democratic transition : a critical examination of its open-up
Other Titles: Tai-wan min zhu zhuan xing : lun qi kai duan
台灣民主轉型 : 論其開端
Authors: Kan, Ming-yue (簡明宇)
Department: Dept. of Public and Social Administration
Degree: Master of Philosophy
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: Dept. of Public and Social Administration, City University of Hong Kong
Subjects: Democracy -- Taiwan
Democratization -- Taiwan
Taiwan -- Politics and government -- 1988-2000
Notes: CityU Call Number: JQ1536.K36 1999
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 132-144)
Thesis (M.Phil.)--City University of Hong Kong, 1999
xi, 147 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
Type: Thesis
Abstract: The major research problem of this thesis is that given that the authoritarian rule was effectively exercised in Taiwan over three decades before the mid 1980s, why did democratic transition emerge there in 1986? This study explains the research problem with an integrated approach combining the modernization and transition theories. The modernization theory focuses on how the structural factors of the socioeconomic and cultural development have shaped the democratic transition as long term causes. The transition theory analyzes the evolution of the opposition movement, and the strategies and calculations of the political elite as the short term causes of the same process. In particular, the integrated approach draws special attention to the mainland China factor, which has long been neglected by the existing literature in accounting for the transition. The main argument of this thesis is the legitimacy crisis of the KMT authoritarian regime has been a central factor that pressurized the KMT to open up democratic transition in order to retain its ruling status in Taiwan. The legitimacy crisis was caused not only by domestic changes in Taiwan but also by the external changes in mainland China. Internally, with decades of socioeconomic and cultural development, more and more Taiwanese possessed democratic values. Tangwai movement, especially mass movement rose and their demand for democracy became stronger and stronger. Externally, the changes of mainland China seriously undermined the major legitimacy bases of the KMT authoritarian regime. Despite of the dominant position of the KMT in Taiwan, its percentage share of vote was still decreasing from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s. All these indicated that the legitimacy of the KMT authoritarian regime had been largely eroded and democratic regime had become a preferable alternative. The legitimacy crisis pressed the KMT to consider either liberalization or suppression. The thesis therefore argues that the short-term cause of Taiwan's democratic transition, especially the timing of the open-up, has been heavily affected by the calculations and strategies of the KMT and tangwai elite.
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