Area of Study
Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Third parties have played a small role in Taiwan's legislature and have never seriously contested a presidential election. However, recently Taiwan’s two-party dynamic has been shaken up by the emergence of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), led by former Taipei mayor and independent politician Ko Wen-je. Founded in 2019, the TPP is largely seen as a vehicle for Ko to launch a serious challenge for the Taiwanese presidency. So far, the TPP has seen success far above any other third party in Taiwanese history. In the words of one of Ko’s critics, “Ko most likely will become the biggest variable in the 2024 presidential election.”
Ko has made a name for his party primarily through his charismatic personality, his ability to find political and financial allies, and his seemingly innate ability to capitalize on the weaknesses of his competitors. By presenting himself as a rough-around-the-edges politician that is not beholden to the DPP or the KMT, Ko has allowed his moderate platform to prove hugely popular. Specifically, Ko has made the centrist policies of the TPP interesting by painting both the DPP and the KMT as ineffective. Ko has also outsourced the political and financial support for his presidential campaign to others, which allows him to continue touting his humble personal origins. And Ko’s ability to make the most of the current struggles facing the KMT and the DPP has boosted his success. These three strengths combined have allowed Ko to disrupt Taiwan’s two-party political climate, and may propel him into the presidency.
Stackler, Walter, "THIRD PARTY POWERHOUSE: Ko Wen-je's Rise in Taiwanese Politics" (2023). Summer Research. 465.
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University of Puget Sound