Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Minxin Pei

Rights Information

© 2016 Melody Chang


The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered a crushing defeat to the Kuomintang (KMT) in the 2008 presidential elections in Taiwan that left them passive, disorganized, and without a clear future in the Taiwanese government. The pro-independence DPP had successfully maintained executive power for two terms, winning the 2000 and 2004 elections while increasingly promoting a spirit of Taiwanese nationalism. However, President Chen Shui-bian’s administration soon proved to be disastrous with his corruption scandals and failed policies that were evident of the party’s lack of political experience. After eight years under Ma Ying-jeou, the DPP, with its limited resources, managed to revive itself to win a complete transfer of power with Tsai Ing-wen’s victory in 2016. The purpose of this paper is to provide an explanation for the domestic events that allowed for the DPP’s return. Three major categories include: the collapse of the KMT government, the changing society and rise of a new era, and the restructuring of the DPP’s platform and campaigning practices. These areas will be examined through key events, which provide crucial insight into how these external factors became favorable conditions for the opposition party. The findings from this case study of Taiwanese domestic politics can be instrumental in further understanding cross-Strait relations.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.