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Reviews 265 Hung-mao Tien, editor. Taiwan's Electoral Politics and Democratic Transition : Riding the Third Wave. Armonk and London: M. E. Sharpe, 1995. xvi, 253 pp. Hardcover $52.95, isbn 1-56324-670-8. Paperback $22.95, isbn 156324 -671-6. For several decades now, Taiwan has widely been credited wifh an "economic miracle" that has brought extremely rapid growth wifh a comparatively equal distribution ofincome ("growth with equity"). In die late 1980s and early 1990s, Taiwan matched its economic transformation with a political one as it moved from an authoritarian one-party regime to a fuU democracy wifh a competitive party system much more rapidly and smoothly than almost any observer would have predicted. In addition, unlike most democratic transitions, die ruling authoritarian party has been able to retain its majority status under electoral competition. This "political miracle," therefore, has put Taiwan squarely in the middle ofwhat Samuel Huntington has caUed the "third wave" ofdemocratization that has swept fhe world over the last two decades. Hung-mao Tien's edited book, Taiwan's Electoral Politics and Democratic Transition: Riding the Third Wave, seeks to provide an overview of the processes of democratization in Taiwan, focusing on the role ofelections. It presents a set ofessays primarily by younger scholars from Taiwan who have been schooled in the research techniques and scholarship ofAmerican academia. In particular, it combines two perspectives that normaUy are not found together: (1) an emphasis on statistical techniques and the "behavioral approach" to elections and public opinion, and (2) the "structural models" ofeconomic and social life prevalent in "dependency theory." In general, die volume is quite successful. It presents a sophisticated and insightful analysis ofTaiwan's "Great Transition," and serves as a valuable showcase for a new generation ofimportant scholarship as weU. Since free and competitive elections form the centerpiece ofmost definitions ofdemocracy, it is hardly surprising that electoral politics should be the key to Taiwan's democratic transition. However, the book goes well beyond simply asserting that Taiwan's level ofdemocracy can be measured by the importance and freedom ofits elections—low in the 1950s, moderate from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, and full with the direct election ofthe national legislature (Legislative Yuan) in 1992 and 1995 and president in 1996. Rather, diese essays argue convincingly that the nature ofthe earlier limited elections propeUed Taiwan down the© 1997 by University patn towar¿ democracybychannelingpolitical and socialpower in certain direcoj awai ? resstjons anj ^^ ^ nature 0felectoral politics promoted a smooth transition in the early 1990s by giving aU the major political blocs a stake in the democratic "game." 266 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 When the Nationalist or Kuomintang (KMT) Party of Chiang Kai-shek lost the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and evacuated to Taiwan, it continued to claim that it was the legitimate government ofall China and maintained a national government dominated by fhe mainlanders, who had come to Taiwan with Chiang (about 15 percent of the population). WhUe fhe regime was clearly authoritarian and repressive, it also tried to reach out to the local population ofislanders by promoting economic development and by allowing local elections. The KMT dominated local elections by incorporating preexisting local political factions into the party (as weU as by preventing the establishment ofnew parties under the terms ofmartial law). These local factions were played offagainst each other by the mainlanders at the top of the party and the government and were also rewarded with lucrative economic patronage under the control of the statist regime. This system graduaUy created forces for its transformation, however. It inevitably promoted the "Taiwanization" of the lower and then fhe middle levels of the party and fhe government; and, beginning in the 1970s, it increased the power and die status of "electoral politicians" within the regime. Thus, as the essays by Hung-mao Tien, Bruce Dickson, Teh-fu Huang, and Ming-tong Chen well Alústrate , the very system oflimited local elections that an authoritarian regime implemented to manipulate power ultimately helped to unleash powerful forces for transforming that regime. The democracy "revolution" of the late 1980s and early 1990s represented a combination offorces from above (i.e., inside fhe ruling...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 265-267
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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