The Legislative Consequences of Electoral Reform: Adoption of the Mixed-Member System in Taiwan

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2021-08

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Abstract

This dissertation aims to explore the legislative consequences of the 2005 electoral reform in Taiwan and test whether a “mandate-divide” exists between legislators elected in local districts and those elected in party lists. It also investigates whether candidate nomination rules in place before the reform affected legislative behaviors. The data covers four congressional periods, two before and two after the electoral reform. The dissertation analyzes quantitatively a variety of legislative information, such as roll-call votes, committee assignments, bill initiation, parliamentary questions, and survey data on constituency service, as well as qualitative data obtained from interviews. This dissertation has several findings. At the macro-level, the reform facilitated the emergence of a two-party system and increased the electoral importance of party labels. After the reform, big parties started to dominate in single-member districts, and minor parties almost disappeared from parliament. At the micro-level, I found that legislative conflict in Taiwan is well captured by one dimension that reflects partisan divisions over its relationship with China. Regarding the mandate-divide perspective, most previous studies tended to focus on roll-call votes without reaching solid conclusions. I also analyzed other aspects of behaviors and found support for the mandate-divide perspective. The findings of this dissertation show that local district legislators are more likely to defect from the party line on the roll-call votes, enter distributive committees, initiate more bills and parliamentary questions on particularistic interests and target them to a narrower geographic scope, and engage in more constituency service than list-PR members. The empirical analyses also showed that although a mandate-divide is present throughout the periods examined in this dissertation, differences were more salient before the reform. Moreover, this dissertation also found that candidate selection rules had limited effects on legislative behaviors. However, evidence stressing the influence of party leaders in other matters was revealed in the interviews I conducted with legislators and staff members. For instance, party leaders use various punishment mechanisms to enforce party discipline. Also, party leaders encouraged list-PR legislators to engage in constituency service after the electoral reform. In conclusion, this dissertation adopts both quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore research questions systematically. I find that a mandate-divide exists in Taiwan. I also find that both local district and list-PR legislators behave differently on some dimensions after the reform, which I argue is due to changes in incentives brought about by the new electoral rules.

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Keywords

electoral systems, electoral reform, mixed-member majoritarian system, legislative behaviors

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