This paper suggests a theoretical framework to understand the evolving voting patterns in Taiwan. It attempts to link macro cleavage structures in the society with micro voting behavior through the meso-level elite maneuvering. This cleavage linkage viewpoint is certainly not new. As early as four decades ago, Lipset and Rokkan (1967) sought to specify the way in which the parties in the Western European polities emerged and stabilized around basic social cleavages. According to the Lipset-Rokkan model, parties in new electoral democracies will be inherently unstable unless they become linked to deep-rooted sources of cleavages. One major weakness of this macro sociological approach, however, is the missing link between existing social cleavages and individual voting choice. The latter field has been heavily influenced by the Michigan model and its extensions. This paper suggests fill in this gap with the meso-level factors of elite competition for mass support and their mobilization strategies. Political elites, by appealing to the deep-rooted cleavages, justify their power struggle with divisions in ideology and group identity. Such an appeal to group identity sets priorities in political agenda, which in turn shapes voters preferences and provides the basis of individual choice of party preference and candidate. It is hoped that this perspective will integrate the macro-historical tradition with the micro-behavioral approach and improve our overall understanding of Taiwans electoral politics.
2007 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association