Below you find an overview of the results and a brief analysis of both the Presidential race, and the National Assembly elections held on 23 March 1996.
President Lee Teng-hui won with a commanding 54 percent of the vote. Professor Peng Ming-min of the opposition DPP-party came in with 21.13 percent. The two other candidates in the four-way race, Messrs. Lin Yang-kang and Chen Li-an, trailed far behind with 14.9 and 9.98 percent respectively.
The results show that the Taiwanese voters support a strong "Taiwan first" policy, and were not intimidated by China's bullying. Both President Lee and Professor Peng took a firm stance against China, and stated during the election campaign that they intended to further enhance Taiwan's international position by continuing to press for UN-membership and further diplomatic relations. Together these two won 75 percent of the vote.
China's threats also sharply reduced support for pro-unification candidates Lin and Chen, who advocated an accomodation with China. As Taiwan is being transformed into a fully-functioning democracy, it will become more difficult for such pro-unification advocates to succeed in electoral politics on the island. As the differences between a democratic Taiwan and a repressive China grow, the mainlanders who came to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek will increasingly have to identify with Taiwan, and the KMT will have to distance itself further and further away from traditional party orthodoxy of unification with China.
Mr. Lee won convincingly, and the DPP is doing some soul-searching: Dr. Peng received a much lower percentage of the vote than the roughly one-third share the party normally gets in elections, because many independence-supporters crossed over to vote for President Lee. Here are some explanations:
China's personal attacks against President Lee. The virulous attacks by China -- and by candidates Lin Yang-kang and Chen Li-an -- against Mr. Lee backfired, and actually encouraged the Taiwanese people to rally behind the President, who is a native Taiwanese. During the campaign Mr. Lee increasingly presented himself as a defender of Taiwan's interests, who has transformed the old mainlander-dominated Kuomintang into a "Taiwan First" party.
Less distinction between the Kuomintang and the DPP. On many issues, President Lee has drawn closer to positions traditionally taken by the DPP. He adopted many of the DPP's main political issues, such as striving for UN membership, and a higher international role for Taiwan. This further fueled public perception that Lee is finding his Taiwanese roots, and is consolidating Taiwan's international position while paying lipservice to eventual unification with China.
The DPP's "Grand Reconciliation" campaign alienated many in the DPP. This campaign was initiated by the DPP leadership following the December 1995 Legislative Yuan elections, and entailed a tactical cooperation with the pro-unification New Party in an attempt to wrestle the majority in the Legislative Yuan away from the Kuomintang. It turns out to have been a strategic mistake.
Advantage of funds and incumbency by President Lee. Control of the administrative powers of government, the advantages of incumbency, and the KMT's large financial resources made it possible for the President to outspend the other candidates in advertising, control of access to the television media, and thus to overwhelm his competitors. The KMT blanketed Taipei and other cities with billboards, television commercials, and campaign paraphernalia, while the DPP's lack of funds made it impossible for Professor Peng to make up for the lack of name-recognition on the island.
The elections for the 334-member National Assembly -- a body which has "Amendment of the Constitution" as its only function -- was held concurrently. It showed the following results:
|Number of Seats||Percent of Vote||Number of Seats||Percent of Vote|
|Kuomintang||183||49.68 %||254||71.2 %|
|DPP||99||29.85 %||66||23.9 %|
|Independent candidates||6||6.80 %||5||4.9 %|
|New Party||46||13.67 %|
|TOTAL||334||100 %||325||100 %|
For comparison, we show the number of seats and percentage of the votes gained in the previous National Assembly elections in 1991. This shows the significant loss suffered by the Kuomintang since that time, from more than 70 percent to less than 50 percent. A large portion of that is due to the establishment of the New Party in 1993 -- which drew away many of the mainlanders, the KMT's traditional power base.
The table shows the headway made by the DPP, consolidating its position with approximately one third of the electorate as its power base. It also shows that the Kuomintang does no longer have the majority to unilaterally amend the Constitution, which requires the approval of at least a three-quarter majority in the Assembly.
Back to: Taiwan News and Current Events page