Transforming a Party State into a Democracy

  • Steve Tsang
Part of the St Antony’s book series


Although Taiwan had one of the most anti-communist governments in the world its political system, prior to its democratization in 1986, resembled that in communist countries such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or the former Soviet Union. The majority of existing works suggest that its ruling party, the Kuomintang (KMT), was quasi-Leninist or was organized along Leninist lines.1 Leninist or not, the KMT started a process of democratization by which it dismantled itself as a party state, transformed the political system into a democracy and itself into a democratic party within ten years. This occurred while Taiwan continued to grow rapidly economically and maintained social order and political stability. Since the KMT has also managed to retain political power through open and fair elections this ‘quiet revolution’ should provide a shining example for Leninist party states which may contemplate political changes.2 It appears that the KMT experience should have particular relevance for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) state in the PRC.3


Chinese Communist Party Democratic Progressive Party Party State Political Officer Taiwan Strait 
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© Steven Tsang 1999

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  • Steve Tsang

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