Analysts weigh in on referendum failure and future elections

28 November, 2022

Courtesy of ICRT


Academics are seeking to explain why the referendum on lowering the voting age to 18 failed to pass on Saturday. The referendum fell well short of the threshold of nearly 9.62 million "yes" votes needed to pass.


Figures provided by the Central Election Commission show that only 5.65 million voters backed the proposed revision against 5.02 million voters who opposed it.


Professor Hu Bo-yen of the Soochow University says the referendum failed for two reasons: distrust from KMT supporters, who believe that younger voters tend to side with the DPP and lackluster campaigning on the issue by political parties.


Professor Chu Chao-hsiang of the National Taiwan Normal University says although the referendum received more "yes" votes than "no" votes, it's also likely that people opposed to lowering the voting age just left the referendum section on their ballots empty in protest.


Chu also says more voters might have supported the referendum if it was limited to lowering the voting age from 20 to 18 without allowing 18-year-olds to run for office.


Meanwhile, international scholars are wading in on the results of this past weekend's local election saying while the results will bolster the KMT, they are unlikely to have a major bearing on the 2024 presidential election – when cross-strait issues will be back on the ballot.

According to Bonnie Glaser, of Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, local elections in Taiwan are primarily focused on "personalities and local issues, not on China," and the outcome of the elections is not a barometer of the 2024 presidential vote.


Professor Shelley Rigger, of Davidson University, says while the elections had a local focus, they showed that the KMT "has not been eliminated as a competitive player" in Taiwan's politics, and should not be counted out in 2024. Rigger says if the KMT is to be competitive then it needs to continue working to adjust its messages in order to align with the mainstream Taiwanese preference for the status quo.


Kharis Templeman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, says the KMT benefited from structural advantages in local elections and the fact that it had several popular incumbents on the ballot. Templeman says while the KMT will have to craft a different message for its national election campaign, the results of the local election show that the party "has a future in Taiwan politics and will probably be competitive in 2024.

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