Retrospective and prospective voting in a one-party- dominant democracy: Taiwan’s 1996 presidential election

  • John Fuh-Sheng Hsieh
  • Dean Lacy
  • Emerson M. S. Niou


Several theories of voting behavior suggest that voters evaluate candidates in an election based on the candidates’ past performance and future promise. There is a dispute in the theory and ambiguity in empirical evidence about which direction voters look when choosing candidates: do voters weigh past performance or future promise more heavily in the voting booth? This paper contributes empirical support to the prospective voting model by testing both retrospective and prospective voting in a pivotal case: the 1996 Taiwan presidential election. Taiwan’s 1996 election represents the first popular election of the president from a field of candidates that included the long-ruling KMT party incumbent, Lee Tent-hui. In the Taiwan presidential election, voter evaluations of Lee’s prospects for managing the economy in the future prove statistically significant as a predictor of voter choice. Voter evaluations of recent economic conditions do not appear closely related to voter choice. Voters’ perceptions of the candidates’ abilities to influence ethnic relations, domestic safety, and international security are better predictors of the vote than past ethnic relations or past security problems, even in the face of Communist China’s pre- election aggression toward Taiwan.


Presidential Election Prospective Evaluation Retrospective Evaluation Vote Model Voter Choice 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Fuh-Sheng Hsieh
    • 1
  • Dean Lacy
    • 2
  • Emerson M. S. Niou
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political SciencesNational Chengchi UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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