2024 年台湾地区选举的结果及其影响
Return to the Library

Results and Impact of the 2024 Taiwan Elections

2024 年台湾地区选举的结果及其影响

Jie Dalei, an expert on Taiwan and U.S.-China relations, analyzes the results of the 2024 elections in Taiwan in this piece published by the Institute of International and Strategic Studies. He seeks to explain the failure of the Kuomintang (KMT) to secure the presidency, considers the future of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), and assesses implications of the president-elect Lai Ching-te administration for cross-Strait and U.S.-China relations.

Key takeaways
  • Jie Dalei, an associate professor at the Peking University School of International Studies, analyzes Taiwan’s 2024 elections, highlighting the relatively low voter turnout compared to 2020, lost seats for the  Democratic People’s Party (DPP) in the legislature, and the failure of the Kuomintang (KMT) to secure the presidency.
  • Jie concludes that the KMT’s defeat was mainly due to its failure to form an alliance with Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) and lack of influence in the south of Taiwan.
  • Jie concludes that the lack of a clear majority for any party is likely to introduce uncertainty in the Legislative Yuan. Moreover, he suggests that the TPP is becoming an increasingly potent force in Taiwan’s politics, and remains relatively independent from either of the other two parties.
  • Jie suggests that Lai Ching-te’s win promises to increase cross-Strait tensions, and that even the United States has worries about how Lai will manage relations with Beijing.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintCopy Link
Original text
English text
See an error? Drop us a line at
View the translated and original text side-by-side

I. Result of the elections


The “two-in-one” election for the leaders and legislative body of the Taiwan region concluded on January 13, 2024. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates Lai Ching-te and Hsiao Bi-khim were elected as the chief and deputy leaders of Taiwan. Among the 113 seats in Taiwan’s legislature, the Kuomintang (KMT) won 52 seats, the DPP won 51 seats, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) won 8 seats, and candidates without party membership or without recommendation from a political party won 2 seats. In terms of the number of votes and vote rates, Lai Ching-te and Hsiao Bi-khim of the DPP received 5,586,019 votes, with a vote rate of 40.05%. Hou Yu-ih and Chao Shao-kang of the KMT received 4,671,021 votes, with a vote rate of 33.49%, and Ko Wen-je and Cynthia Wu of the TPP received 3,690,466 votes, with a vote rate of 26.46%. In terms of party vote rates, the DPP had a rate of 36.16%, the KMT had a rate of 34.58%, and the TPP had a rate of 22.07%. The overall turnout rate for this election was 71.86%. The northern part of Taiwan had a slightly higher turnout than the southern part, but both were around the average. Turnout in eastern Taiwan along with Penghu (53.70%), Lianjiang (51.32%), and Kinmen (36.37%) was relatively low, with Kinmen having the lowest turnout overall.


The general opinion inside and outside the island is that the three parties each had successes and failures. The DPP broke the rule of party rotation every eight years that had held in Taiwan’s leadership elections since 1996. However, Lai Ching-te and Hsiao Bi-khim only won a relative majority of about 40%, and the DPP is only the second largest party in the legislature, with its number of seats dropping from 68 in 2016 to 61 in 2020 to 51 seats after this election. Although the KMT failed to obtain an absolute majority of the seats, it became the largest party in the legislature with 52 seats. If the two pro-KMT independent legislators are included, this number is 54 seats. On the other hand, the KMT failed to win the election for Taiwan’s leadership for the third consecutive time, and its vote rate once again failed to exceed 40% (31.04% in 2016, 38.61% in 2020, and 33.49% in 2024), which deserves serious reflection. Ko Wen-je and Cynthia Wu of the TPP ranked third in the regional leadership election, but their vote rate of 26.46% exceeded pre-election polls and expectations. More importantly, although the 11 district representative candidates (区域民意代表候选) nominated by the TPP failed to win, with a party vote rate of 22.07%, the TPP won 8 seats in the legislature, becoming a key force for determining whether the other parties can obtain a majority.


II. Analysis of the elections


In a sense, this election was a relatively “normal” post-2016 election. At the time of the 2016 elections the aftermath of the 2014 “Sunflower Student Movement” was still felt and this, coupled with the “2015 KMT Candidate Change Incident,” meant the KMT was at a disadvantage from the beginning, with almost no chance of winning. In 2020, Tsai Ing-wen hyped up Hong Kong issues and the so-called “resisting China and protecting Taiwan” (抗中保台). Not only was she re-elected, but she also received more than 8 million votes, the highest number ever for any candidate in Taiwan’s leadership election. In the election in January 2024, the KMT tried to make “war and peace” the main theme of the election, while the DPP tried to hype up their so-called “democracy and authoritarianism,” but neither party seemed to have completely taken an overwhelming lead. The 71.86% turnout for this election was the second lowest since 1996, which speaks to this fact to some extent. (The 2016 election had the lowest turnout at 66.3%. That year, the KMT lowered the turnout rate of the Blue camp because of its “candidate change controversy.”) In addition to cross-Strait relations, economic and pocketbook issues, energy policy, and social security were also important issues in this election.


Secondly, some structural characteristics still exist in Taiwanese elections. For example, the political geography of Blue (KMT) in the north and Green (DPP) in the south. Although Lai Ching-te and Hsiao Bi-khim led the vote in 14 of the 22 counties and cities, including Taipei City, New Taipei City, and Taichung City in the north and central areas, they received less than 40% of the vote in the north. In the south, Lai and Hsiao’s lead was even more obvious, with more than 40% of the vote in all regions, and more than 50% in Tainan. Hou and Chao trailed Lai and Hsiao by more than 900,000 votes, and lost by more than 700,000 votes in the four southern counties and cities alone. Other structural features include: The vote share of the three tickets was consistent with the ranking of party support since 2019. According to a survey conducted by Taiwan’s National Chengchi University in June 2023, the rates of support for the DPP, KMT, and TPP were 27.3%, 18.1%, and 12.1% respectively, and 41.2% were “neutral or did not respond.” Since the “Sunflower Student Movement” in 2014, the KMT has continued to struggle to gain the votes of young people.


Finally, the outcome of this election was also affected by some distinctive factors. For example, unlike the DPP and the TPP, the KMT party chairman and candidate are not the same person, which imposes certain constraints on it during elections. The candidates of the DPP and the TPP were determined early on, and the controversial qualifying process for the KMT candidate also affected its support rate. Of course, the turmoil and eventual failure of the “Blue and White alliance” between the KMT and the TPP made the election a true three-way contest. This is an important reason why Lai Ching-te and Hsiao Bi-khim were able to win the election with about 40% of the vote. On January 17, Lin Kuan-yu, KMT Culture and Communications Committee Chair, stated that the three main reasons for the KMT’s defeat were: the failure of the “Blue and White alliance,” a general environment that was unfavorable to the KMT, and the lack of deep cultivation in the south.


III. Impact of elections on the island’s politics


The election results show that Lai Ching-te is faced with a situation where his party failed to receive more than half of the votes and does not hold a majority in the legislature. His predicament is similar to that of Chen Shui-bian. At present, the process of alliance forming among the three parties in the legislative body over the issue of the chief and deputy leaders is still ongoing. On the morning of January 15, the TPP held a press conference and proposed four major proposals for legislative reform, asking the two major parties to respond before deciding which of the two they would support. The four major proposals include: establishing a “hearings-based investigation system” for the legislature, strengthening the “review of personnel approval authority,” strengthening norms for recusal by representatives in the case of conflicts of interests, and regularly publicizing the “use of relevant funds.” On January 18, the KMT’s Han Kuo-yu stated that he would partner with Johnny Chiang to run for president and vice-president of the legislature. He also stated that as long as the TPP is willing to cooperate, preference will be given to candidates from the TPP for the position of vice-president. On February 1, the legislature will officially open its new session. At present, unless the TPP cooperates with the DPP (as the former has just expressed its hope to “unseat” the latter in elections, the possibility of cooperation between the two parties is low), Han Kuo-yu of the KMT will likely be elected president of the legislature. Even so, for the first time, no single party has a majority (from 2002 to 2008, no party had a nominal majority, but due to the cooperation of the KMT and the People First Party, the pan-Blue camp had a substantial majority), which will greatly increase uncertainty in the legislature. The TPP is likely to constantly calibrate its stance on different issues in order to maintain maximum flexibility and influence. In addition, in his speech after the election, Lai Ching-te said that he would “appoint people based on their talents, regardless of party affiliation.” In the process of staffing the administrative agencies after May 20, it remains to be seen whether Lai Ching-te and the DPP will win over the TPP to form the so-called “coalition cabinet.”


Taking the long view, it seems too early to say whether the DPP will remain in power for a long time. As mentioned before, the KMT is the largest party in the legislature and supplies the mayors and magistrates of 14 of the 22 cities and counties. At the same time, the KMT is also undergoing its own generational changing of the guard. Among the new representatives, 12 are under the age of 40, and 9 of these are from the KMT. Among the 52 representatives of the Kuomintang, 18 are under the age of 50, more than one-third. More importantly, cross-Strait relations are likely to continue to deteriorate over the next four years. The Taiwanese people will pay an increasing price for the DPP’s line, which endangers peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The choice between “war and peace” will become increasingly clear and urgent.


In addition, the TPP is becoming a political force that cannot be ignored on the island. The 26.46% share of the vote won by Ko Wen-je and Cynthia Wu was the second-highest vote share in history of any party other than the KMT and DPP (the highest vote share was 36.84% for Soong Chu-yu and Chang Chau-hsiung in 2000). This time, the TPP’s vote share also reached 22.07%. Although the third parties that have appeared in Taiwan, such as the New Party, People First Party, Chinese Unification Promotion Party, and New Power Party, have been basically short-lived, these parties were “little blue” or “little green” parties that had broken off from or had similar ideas to one of the two major parties. In contrast, the TPP is relatively independent. In his post-election speech, Party Chairman Ko Wen-je also seemed to hint that he would make a comeback in four years.


IV. Impact of elections on cross-Strait relations


Lai Ching-te has a deep-Green background (深绿背景). When he served as Premier in September 2017, he declared that he “is a political worker who advocates ‘Taiwan independence’ and a pragmatic ‘Taiwan independence activist.'” Lai’s election will undoubtedly increase the risks in cross-Strait relations in the next four years. In order to win this election and alleviate the concerns of the United States, he stated that he would “maintain the status quo” and continue the so-called “Tsai Ing-wen line” recognized by the United States. However, the “Tsai Ing-wen line,” which falsely claims that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are “not affiliated with each other” and throws out the “new two states theory,” has brought cross-Strait relations to a dangerous situation. There will be still greater risks during Lai’s four-year term. For example, can Lai continue to resist the internal lure of “sudden independence” (急独)? Will he compromise with the deep-Green forces within the DPP? Will they respond with “sudden independence” when cross-Strait relations deteriorate? Chen Shui-bian went from the “Four No’s and One Without” path to the “sudden independence” path at the beginning, and this lesson is not in the distant past.


As regards the United States, since the crisis triggered by Pelosi’s unauthorized entry into Taiwan in August 2022, the Biden administration has adjusted its policy to a certain extent out of concern that the situation in the Taiwan Strait could spiral out of control. For example, the Biden administration continues to emphasize that it does not support “Taiwan independence” and has written this into the National Security Strategy released in October 2022 for the first time. The Biden administration kept Tsai Ing-wen’s “transit” through the United States in March and April 2023, and Lai Ching-te’s “transit” in August 2023 relatively low profile. During the two heads of state meetings between China and the United States in November 2022 and November 2023, Biden made the decision on the Taiwan issue that he would not support “Taiwan independence,” would not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan,” and would not seek to exploit the Taiwan issue as a tool to contain China. On January 11, before the election, the National Security Council of the Biden administration held a special telephone press conference on the Taiwan election, giving a detailed explanation of U.S. policy and the election. In addition to once again stating that they do not support “Taiwan independence,” officials from the National Security Council also made statements rarely heard from the U.S. government in recent years, including “supporting cross-Strait dialogue” and not taking a position on the final outcome as long as “cross-Strait differences” are resolved peacefully (which can be understood as not opposing peaceful reunification). President Biden stated immediately after the election that he did not support “Taiwan independence.” Laura Rosenberger, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, once again mentioned “supporting cross-Strait dialogue” in a speech in Taiwan after the election. Given the current state of Sino-U.S. relations, what the United States hopes for most is that someone like Tsai Ing-wen will be elected as the leader of Taiwan, someone who will closely cooperate with the United States while avoiding excessive provocation. In this sense, both Lai Ching-te and Hou Yu-ih present both advantages and disadvantages for the United States, and the United States’ concerns about Lai Ching-te have not been completely removed. Therefore, although the Biden administration will not restrain itself in strengthening military ties between the United States and Taiwan, promoting the “internationalization” of the Taiwan issue, and helping Taiwan expand the so-called “international space,” its recent policy adjustments have helped to restrain Lai Ching-te’s possible future urge for “sudden independence” to a certain extent.


Taking a broader perspective, the United States has once again become militarily involved in the Middle East due to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict has reached a stalemate. The United States will hold an election in November this year, and the possible changes in U.S. domestic and foreign policy deserve close observation and analysis. At the same time, the dialectical method of Marxist philosophy means that we must grasp both the change and continuity in things at the same time. What has changed is the political situation on the island and in the United States. What remains unchanged is the continued improvement of mainland China’s comprehensive strength and international influence and its decisive impact on national reunification. The white paper The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era clearly states that “China’s development and progress are a key factor determining the course of cross-Strait relations and the realization of complete national reunification.” While paying attention to the political situation on the island and in the United States, mainland China must adhere to dialectical thinking and systematic concepts, maintain strategic focus, fully implement the Party’s overall strategy for solving the Taiwan issue in the new era, and solidly promote national reunification.


To top

Cite This Page

节大磊 (Jie Dalei). "Results and Impact of the 2024 Taiwan Elections [2024 年台湾地区选举的结果及其影响]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in International and Strategic Studies Report [国际战略研究简报], February 3, 2024

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintCopy Link