Taiwan held presidential elections on January 11, 2020 to determine the course of its political and economic orientation for the next four years. The elections came at a crucial time—following six months of political unrest in Hong Kong that shifted public opinion on the island and revealed a deep divide within Taiwanese society.
The three candidates contesting the election reflected the polarization of voters. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen called for more social reforms and political as well as economic distance from China, while Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu, representing the more conservative element, built his platform on closer ties with Beijing, particularly in trade and investment. Candidate James Soong, a former member of the Kuomintang, anchored his agenda in a compromise between the DPP and the Kuomintang positions.
The issues of economic development and relations with China took center stage in the campaign. While Taiwan’s economy is relatively healthy, even benefitting from the ongoing US-China trade war, comparatively low salaries and high living costs in large urban areas remain significant challenges. China and its proxies also exerted significant influence on Taiwanese media, in an effort to drive voters away from Tsai Ing-wen and support Han Kuo-yu.
Tensions with Beijing remain with regard to economic and diplomatic independence, and the highly sensitive issue of sovereignty. Other key themes in the campaign included moral and cultural values, the environment, and the reliability of the media.
Global Voices ran a Civic Media Observatory investigation to study the themes, narratives, and emerging trends in the use of media to influence perceptions during the election campaign. Working with Taiwan’s Doublethink Lab, we spent six weeks tracking and documenting Taiwan’s media ecosystem. The dataset includes 81 media items, and explores 13 themes and 15 narrative frames. Explore the dataset.
Read the full report: Taiwan Elections 2019-2020 Investigation
Visit the Civic Media Observatory main page.
Read the stories
Stories about Taiwan elections 2020
For the first time, the Taiwan Fact Check Center fact-checked the live, televised 2020 presidential debates on December 29, 2019.
Pro-Beijing media outlet announced it would leave the Taiwanese market in protest over the anti-infiltration law in Taiwan.
While the outcome of the Taiwan 2020 presidential election is settled, generational conflicts continue.
Some analysts have attributed Tsai Ing-wen's landslide victory in Taiwan's recent presidential to the Hong Kong protests and encroachment by Beijing. But that's only part of the story.
Puma Shen, director of DoubleThink Labs, shares his observations on the ways in which fake news and disinformation were disseminated prior to Taiwan's January 11, 2020 presidential elections.
Tsai said: 'I want to once again call upon Beijing authorities to remind them that peace, clarity, democracy and dialogue are key to positive cross-strait interactions and long-term development.'
The axis of Taiwan’s political dynamics has shifted from the country's economy and administration to China factor and cross-strait relation.
"While today the international community is happy to maintain the current status-quo when dealing separately with Taiwan and China, certain political forces in both places are advocating for a change."
The political label “green terror” is also circulating widely on mainland Chinese state-affiliated media and social media outlets.
The large questions of what should be Taiwan's political, social, economic, environmental, cultural model continue to dominate the political debate, and naturally surge at times of elections.
Ahead of Taiwan's 2020 presidential election, mainland Chinese propaganda has started to downplay the “unifying Taiwan by force” narrative.
All three candidates represent strongly divergent views on social values, economic development, relations with China and the status of Taiwan.
As the election nears, netizens are election posters through the hashtag #GraphicDesignForDemocracy.
Taiwan has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that calls for the abolition of capital punishment, yet it has applied death penalty in 34 cases since.