Taipei, 5 December 1998
On 5 December 1998, more than 10 million Taiwanese people went to
the polls to elect a new Legislative Yuan (parliament) as well as
mayors and city councils for Taipei and Kaohsiung.
The results showed some interesting surprises: while Taipei DPP
mayor Chen Shui-bian was unseated by KMT challenger Ma Ying-jeou, in
Kaohsiung just the opposite happened: DPP challenger Hsieh
Chang-t'ing unseated longterm Kuomintang incumbent Wu Den-yi.
In the Legislative Yuan, the ruling Kuomintang held on to about 46
percent of the vote -- the same as in the December 1995 elections --
but the Democratic Progressives lost a few percentage points to the
more outspoken Taiwan Independence Party and the newly established
New Nation Alliance. Together these opposition groups gathered about
33 percent of the vote.
The big loser in the Legislative Yuan election was the
pro-unificationist New Party, which went from 13 percent in 1995 to
only 7 percent of the vote in this election. The remainder of the
vote (some 13 percent) went to unaffiliated candidates and splinter
The race was seen as an important indication of the willingness of
the people in Taiwan to forge along in the direction of a free,
democratic and independent existence. While the defeat of Chen
Shui-bian slows down his momentum towards the presidency, there was
at the same time a strong swing towards a new Taiwanese identity:
during the campaign President Lee Teng-hui coined a new phrase "New
Taiwanese" -- to appeal to the Taiwanese vote, but at the same
time include mainlanders such a Mr. Ma Ying-jeou -- while Mr. Ma's
own campaign slogan was "Taiwan first, Taipei first."