Electoral politics in Taiwan has undergone drastic change in the past few years. The Democratic Progressive Party was established in 1986 and has proven to be a viable political force challenging the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) which has been the dominant party in Taiwan since 1945. The dominance of the KMT in Taiwanese politics was further threatened by the defection of some KMT members to form the New Party. The new configuration of Taiwan's party system seriously complicates Taiwan's electoral politics and increases uncertainty over the electoral fortune of each political party in future elections. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of issues in voters' evaluations of the political parties. Information on issue positions and salience and their impact on vote choice will be helpful to understand each party's strategy in formulating its party platform to compete for votes. Survey data from the 1993 election of the county magistrates and city mayors in the Republic of China on Taiwan, collected by the Election Study Center of National Chengchi University in February 1994, are used to explore voters' preferences; their perception of the parties' positions on important issues; and the weights they attach to different issues. We employ a spatial model of party competition to investigate the impact of the issues and party identification on voters' evaluation of the parties' performance. Copyright (C) 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.