« Taiwanese Journal of Political Science No.99Publish: 2024/03

【Research Note】Local Factions and the Transformation of Vote Brokers: A Case Study of Kaohsiung City

Author: Tian-jie Yang

Abstract / Chinese PDF Download

Local politics and clientelism were controlled by the KMT in the early days of their rule in Taiwan. Following Taiwan’s democratization, the debate among scholars has been whether the structure of local factions has collapsed entirely, has not disappeared but become fragmented, or has become a more mountainous structure. Some scholars organize these viewpoints into two affirmative and negative theories. Taking Kaohsiung City as a case study, this article mainly focuses on the survival of factions, examines whether local factions and their vote brokers have transformed, and analyzes the types and characteristics of such transformations. Since prior to the merger of counties and cities, Kaohsiung City’s municipal faction has controlled almost the entirety of the Kaohsiung City Council, yet if the municipal faction has now disappeared, how can this still be the case? Was the merger of counties and cities in 2010 a catalyst, with the student Sunflower Movement of 2014 bringing even greater impact? Did these events stimulate an unconscious to conscious transformation of local factions and vote brokers? This article takes the 2014 and 2018 local elections after the merger as the main research scope, and extends the study to the 2020 by-elections and the 2022 elections. This article adopts a methodology of in-depth interviews, including with local political elites, elders and scholars, to collect first-hand information. The study finds that some minor vote brokers penetrate into various interpersonal networks and play an important role in elections. They may then grow into major vote brokers and survive through transformations with considerable resilience. Based on this, this article proposes three types of transformations of vote brokers: the traditional vertical peasant associations, the relatively horizontal villagers, and the relatively horizontal temples. The study also finds that after the merger, the county faction weakened, but the city faction absorbed the county faction and was able to survive. The preliminary results of this research are expected to provide academic circles with a reference for further exploration of theories related to the transformation of local factions and vote brokers in Taiwan.

Keywords:clientelism、local factions、Social Network、Vote Brokers