Taiwan has experienced dramatic political change in its party system similar to other third wave democracies. Foremost among them is that voters have changed the political parties that they support over the past decade. The popular support of the once-hegemonic Kuomintang (KMT) has decreased and it was defeated in the 2000 presidential election. Concurrently, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has witnessed an increase of popular support, and new parties, such as the People First Party (PFP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) came into being after 2000. As a result, a new party system has evolved in Taiwan. This article traces the process of party system change in Taiwan. Longitudinal data sets from the Election Study Center of the National Chengchi University are used to examine the effects of different sociological backgrounds on voters' partisan support It first describes the general development of Taiwan's party system based on each party's electoral performance. It then examines the political significance of social cleavages in forming the electorate's partisan preferences. Provincial origin, ethnic identity, and a voter's stand on the independence/unification question all play significant roles in determining partisan preference in Taiwan. They provide the social bases of Taiwan 's political parties, as well as Taiwan's evolving party system. Finally, based on the distribution of the social bases of major political parties, this article will address the prospects for continued democratic consolidation in Taiwan.
Journal of Asian and African Studies, 40(1/2),105-123