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Wrapping up Taiwan 2012

In the end, the result of the combined presidential and legislative elections looks like a comfortable and routine win for Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT. Sitting presidents who successfully steward an economy through a global crisis and reduce pressing security threats, seldom fail to be re-elected. Yet, those who have followed the campaign closely will know that this reduction hides a range of issues and complexities that have been documented on this blog since November 1st.

Whether you interpret it as a mandate, a signal of increasing opposition, or the result of various peculiarities, voters granted Ma another four years, with a legislative majority, to continue implementing his policy programs. The direction of cross-Strait relations has been set, but the pace of detente across the Strait is likely to slow. A strong losing effort from Tsai and the DPP means that Ma and the KMT have less latitude to implement their rapprochement policies at will.

The low hanging fruit in cross-Strait economic interactions has been harvested, and further advances will necessitate much trickier negotiations. The CCP is preoccupied with its own domestic problems and upcoming leadership transition, which is likely to lead to a holding position for the rest of the year. Thereafter, pressure may build on Ma to get serious about talking politics with Beijing. Given the strength of popular support for maintaining the status quo, and a rejuvenated opposition (despite the loss and Tsai’s resignation from the DPP leadership), Ma will face more pressure than in his first term. Assuredly, Taiwan’s political situation will continue to demand our attention.

This is the final posting on the Taiwan 2012 blog. Ballots and Bullets will continue to operate (covering various issues in international politics), and I will post here periodically, on both Taiwan and China. I will also contribute to the China Policy Institute’s blog.

The period covered by the Taiwan2012 blog has been difficult, as my wife was seriously ill after our daughter was born in October. It has therefore been particularly gratifying to have been able to share an interest in Taiwan with so many people. Between November 1st and this final post, the blog has generated 60,000 page views, including well over 4000 on Election Day. I would like to thank the following people for their contributions and support, and to everyone who has commented and read the blog during the last 12 weeks.

Thanks to Steve Fielding, Phil Cowley and Steve Tsang at the University of Nottingham for supporting this initiative. Students Scott Pacey, Shih-Hsin Chen, Chris Agass, and Esther Tseng have been a great help. For initial technical support, thanks to Sajhd Hussain and Cemal Burak Tansel.

Especial thanks to the following good people who have written posts for the blog (in some cases, multiple posts): Paul Katz, Sigrid Winkler, Dafydd Fell, Michael Turton, Jens Damm, Mikael Mattlin, Sheng-chih Wang, Julie Chen, Linda Arrigo, Gunter Schubert, Harry Wu, Chris Wang, Muyi Chiu, Dalton Lin, Tim Rich, Malte Kaeding, Sasa Istenic, Chun-Yi Lee, Julia Famularo, Wang Hong-zen, Jeremy Taylor, Bonnie Glaser, John F. Copper, Scott Simon, Cal Clark, Lin Pei-Yin, Ko-hua Yap, Jerome Soldani, Tony Liu, Michal Thim, David Blundell, Ann Heylen, Daniel Lynch, Youann Goudin, Steve Tsang, Esther Tseng, Myron Chiu, Stephane Corcuff, Edward Friedman, Mau-kuei Chang, TY Wang, J Michael Cole, Alex Tan, Stefan Fleischauer, Martin Aldrovandi, Bo Teddards, Gerrit van der Wees, Portnoy Zheng. I think that’s everyone, if I’ve missed you off, please mail me to rectify!

The winner of most-viewed guest post is Paul Katz, for his brilliant pastiche “And by their friends ye shall know them“.

Thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word, for example these good folks on Twitter: @TimMaddog, @Taiwanderful, @davidonformosa, @chungiwang, @Koxinga8, @KeepTWfree, @TaiwanCorner, @taiwanreporter, @filination, @Brownlaoshi, @blickpunktaiwan, @Portnoy, @TaniaBranigan, @kerim, @ChinaLetter, @paulmozur, @samgeall, @Oscar_Wang, @116East, @ChinaMehmet, @markmackinnon, @fravel, @taiwanreporter, @riceagain, @alicemuwu, @Brianglucroft and many others to whom I also extend my thanks.

My thanks to Michael Turton at the View From Taiwan for publicizing the blog throughout, to TJ Cheng for his similar support in the US, and to Dalton Lin of Taiwan Security Research and the many other blog owners who linked to linked to the blog (if your name should be here, please let me know).

Finally, hope to see you all in 2016, if not sooner. Happy Lunar New Year everybody, 恭喜發財。Jon

Mail me at, follow me on Twitter @jonlsullivan, or access my papers at

Published inInternational PoliticsTaiwan 2012


  1. James Chen James Chen

    Wonderful job with this blog! I enjoyed reading every article. Best of wishes to your future endeavors!

    • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

      Thanks James, much appreciated. Jon

  2. Carlos Carlos

    All my best to your family. Thank you so much for the information and insight, I hope to see more of it in the future!

    And since one of my coworkers is from Nottingham, go Forest!

    • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

      Many thanks Carlos; and thanks for your comments throughout. Jon

  3. Thanks for your efforts in coordinating the blog. It was a valuable source of quality commentary during the election.

    • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

      Great to hear that, David. It’s been great having your company along the way

  4. J B J B

    And thank you for the excellent coverage! I look forward to a revival come next election. Also, I hope your family stays well!

    • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

      Many thanks JB, appreciate it. Yep, 2016’ll be along before you know it! Jon

  5. an ordinary citizen of Taiwan an ordinary citizen of Taiwan

    As a mid-aged Taiwanese, I saw how far we have come from authoritarianism to democracy. But after the elections on Jan 14, I couldn’t help but feel we’re like a chessman in the superpowers’ game.

    I found this blog three days ago when googling reviews and news in English about 2012 Taiwan elections. Was very impressed by the multi-faceted and in-depth analyses provided here. You did an excellent job!

    Look forward to more articles about Taiwan in the future. Have you ever thought about contributing to Taipei Times or even translating into Chinese for local newspapers/magazines?

    Thanks a lot for your hard work, dear Jonathan and all the contributing authors. If I can be of any help, be it a local guide or a translator in Taiwan, please do contact me.

    An ordinary citizen of Taiwan

    • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

      Many thanks, ordinary citizen, I appreciate your feedback.

  6. Andy Andy

    I wonder if you have any opinion of why the polls showed what they did before the election. It looked like the “DPP-leaning” organization polls were off the mark, while “KMT-leaning” organization polls being more accurate, except for the Soong’s numbers. Why were Soong’s numbers off? And why did the undecided break for the KMT, if the polls are to believed? At least in the United States, the undecided tend to break for the challenger.

    • Jonathan Sullivan Jonathan Sullivan

      Soong’s numbers were off because people who indicated support for him prior to the election (presumably as a protest against Ma) couldn’t bring themselves to endanger Ma on election day. It was predictable that Soong’s pre-election support would evaporate on election day, and it seems that these most of these votes went to Ma. The number of undecideds (10-20% in many polls) was probably overestimated (for whatever reason, people just didn’t declare their intention). This may have been another pre-election ‘protest’ against Ma. My own guess (we’ll know more when the election survey data are processed) is that Ma’s argument about stability in CSR won over genuine undecideds in the very last part of the campaign. This is such a strong frame, which has been emphasized since 1996, and I imagine has very strong last minute influence.

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