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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An increasingly divided society : democratization and surging nationalism in Taiwan Han, Enze

Abstract

This thesis draws upon theories of democratization and nationalism, and focuses on the dynamics of the relationship between democratization and nationalism in an ethnically plural society. During a democratic transition in an ethnically plural society, it is nearly inevitable that groups with different ethnic identities will experience extensive conflicts. The argument of this thesis is that in Taiwan, because of the long-existing divergent national identities within the society, the democratic transition that started from the late 1970s has stimulated and accelerated the rise of Taiwanese nationalism, which has led to the increasing conflicts between it and the existing Chinese nationalism that the KMT government has for long upheld as its legitimacy symbol. The thesis is composed of four main chapters. The first chapter deals with theories of democratization and nationalism, and the relationship between the two in plural societies. It argues that democratization in an ethnically plural society will very likely bring a politicization of ethnicity and increasing ethnic conflicts. The second chapter reviews Taiwan's political history and analyzes the origins of Taiwanese nationalism. Following this discussion, the third chapter will highlight the DPP's Taiwanese nationalist agenda and President Lee Teng-hui's 12-year rule (1988-2000). The fourth chapter will analyze how divisive Taiwanese society has become after Lee's rule. A statistical analysis of the 2000 Presidential Election will provide strong evidence that in Taiwan, people's national identity decides their party affiliations, which has made the society intractably politically divided and very difficult to bridge. In the concluding chapter, how Chen Shui-bian's first four-year term has done nothing but worsen the existing division will be analyzed.

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