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Ching-hsin Yu, Research Fellow, Election Study Center, National Chengchi University.
First and Nascent Experience: Citizen's Perception, Participation, and Evaluation of the New Legislative Electoral System in Taiwan (in Chinese) Download
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Taiwan has adopted a new mixed member system which carries significant differences from the long-implemented SNTV-MMD system for the election of legislators in 2008. Mainstream literature continues to discuss the electoral impacts on political parties and candidates by the new system while citizen's knowledge of the new system and its concomitant effects on citizen's behavior are less concerned. The purpose of this essay is to explore citizen's perceptions, participations and evaluations of this new system. Based on a 30-day rolling poll data, it firstly examines the distribution and change of citizen's knowledge of the new electoral system. It finds that citizen's knowledge of the new electoral system is not high. Also, citizen's knowledge is increased as election approaches when more campaign information is provided. It is followed by a discussion that citizen's age, education, media exposure, political interests, and party identification are closely associated with citizen's increase of knowledge. Then, by way of analyzing post election panel survey data, this essay makes clear that an increase of citizen's knowledge also contributes to citizen's intention to vote in election. However, citizen maintains a mixed assessment of the new electoral system that, compared with the SNTV-MMD system, the new electoral system is good for recruiting better candidates and the development of democracy but fears for causing social tensions. It also finds citizen's party identification plays a significant role in the assessment while citizen's knowledge of new system does not. In the discussion and conclusion section, it suggests a cautious perspective that citizen in Taiwan has only one experience of the new system. It is reasonable to argue that citizen's knowledge may increase as more elections are implemented under the new system. Meanwhile, based on the New Zealand experience and findings of this essay, more information of the new system, either from the government, mass media, or political parties, will contribute to citizen's knowledge of new system.