Political Polarization and Gridlock as the Result of an Institutional Imbroglio in Taiwan


  • Cal Clark
  • Alexander C. Tan




Taiwan, institutions, democratization, polarization, identity


Institutionalist theory argues that fairly permanent economic structures and policy-making arrangements create “institutions” which shape future policy-making and economic performance to a considerable extent (March and Olsen 1989; North 1990; Riker 1982). This perspective suggests that it might be valuable to look for the political institutions that evolved during Taiwan’s development which could have inhibited the country’s adaptability after the mid-1990s. From this perspective, Taiwan’s current institutional imbroglio results from a combination of a complex and somewhat indeterminate constitutional system, a long-time election system that contained some perverse incentives, and its long era of authoritarian rule. This paper, hence, seeks to provide an “institutionalist” explanation for the polarization and gridlock in Taiwan’s politics in the early 21st century.


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Author Biographies

Cal Clark

Alumni Professor of Political Science and Director of the Master’s of Public Administration Program, Auburn University, Alabama, USA

Alexander C. Tan

Alexander C. Tan, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.


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How to Cite

Clark, C., & Tan, A. C. (2011). Political Polarization and Gridlock as the Result of an Institutional Imbroglio in Taiwan. Asian Studies, -15(2), 77–99. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2011.-15.2.77-99