"Conceeding to Thrive: Taiwan's Path to Democracy and Lessons for China"

"Conceeding to Thrive: Taiwan's Path to Democracy and Lessons for China"

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Venue: 
Nissan Lecture Theatre, St Antony's College
Speaker(s): 
Professor Joseph Wong (University of Toronto)
Series: 
Taiwan Studies Seminar Series

Authoritarian ruling parties are expected to resist democratization, often times at all costs. And yet some of the strongest authoritarian parties in the world have not resisted democratization, but have instead embraced it. This is because their raison d’etre, we contend, is to continue ruling, though not necessarily to remain authoritarian. Put another way, democratization requires ruling parties hold free and fair elections, but not that they lose them. Authoritarian ruling parties can thus be incentivized to concede democratization from a position of exceptional strength. This alternative pathway to democracy is illustrated with the case of Taiwan, though set against a comparative-historical backdrop comprising other Asian cases where ruling parties democratized from positions of considerable strength, and not weakness. The conceding-to-thrive argument, we argue, has implications with respect to “candidate cases” in developmental Asia, where ruling parties have not yet conceded democratization despite being well-positioned to thrive were they to do so, such as the world’s most populous dictatorship, China.