Current Research

Political Opportunity Structure Moderates the Legacy of Political Violence (Draft)

Previous studies render contradictory evidence linking political repression before and political participation after democratization. This article suggests that the perceived political opportunity structure moderates the effect of political violence: victims, their predecessors, and neighbors will punish the authoritarian successor party only if their district is not dominated by it. If the authoritarian successor party is perceived to win, voters would instead vote for the party. This article examines the hypothesis through the unique political context in Taiwan, where the former authoritarian party KMT is still competitive after the democratization and keeps ruling in some districts. Analysis of a newly published White Terror Dataset including 13,206 victims during the martial law period (1949-1987) shows that, if one district has more White Terror victims, KMT receives even more votes in KMT-dominated districts and even fewer votes in districts where KMT did not dominate. The psychological mechanism of this moderation effect is then supported by a pre-registered survey experiment (n = 910) in Taiwan, showing that the White Terror priming increases KMT’s vote share when KMT already leads in the poll. The result helps reconcile previous findings in the literature and explain the resilience of authoritarian successor parties in new democracies.

Who are the Non-separable Voters? (draft)

Non-separable preference is defined as an individual’s preference on one issue being conditional to the outcome of another issue, which challenges the assumptions of democracy. Given its importance, literature does not examine who are the non-separable voters possibly because of the complexity of the measurement. Studies in political behavior suggest three theories explaining the non-separable preferences: (1) Highly cognitive capacity with strong policy preferences, (2) motivated partisan independence, and (3) non-attitude. This article exploits a new rank order question design implemented right before the 2021 Taiwan referendum, in which two power outages before the voting encouraged the formation of non-separable preferences on two referendums choosing between environmental protection and power supply. The rank order question enables researchers to distinguish different types of non-separable preference rankings. The result of this pre-registered survey (n=910) shows that the majority of the measured non-separable voters are driven by non-attitude instead of policy or partisan concerns, even though these non-separable voters can alter the referendum results at the aggregate level. Non-separable voters are, on average, lower education, lower political knowledge, and more likely to be non-partisan. Its implication for the measurement of non-separable preferences and the function of democracy is finally discussed.

Economic Patronage and Issue Linkage (draft)

Economic patronage is when a powerful donor country renders additional economic benefits beyond regular trades to attract another weak recipient country to alter its political position. Why do some donors offer patronages (China to Taiwan after 2008) while others do not (US to Cuba after 1996)? Why do some patronages succeed (EU to Rwanda after 2012) while others fail (China to Taiwan in 2014)? This article provides a new incomplete information model formalizing economic patronages and issue linkages. The powerful donor may not offer patronages if it perceives its weakness or if the recipient is resilient. The weak recipient may accept patronages but does not alter its position if it perceives that the donor may not take revenge. The powerful donor’s “paper tiger” mechanism and the weak recipient’s “opportunism” mechanism are further supported by the empirical analysis of ANES2008 and a representative survey in Taiwan in 2012.

Strategic Ambiguity, Strategic Clarity, and Dual Clarity (with Yao-yuan Yeh, Fang-yu Chen, and Charles Wu, draft)

The U.S. had successfully intervened and prevented the military conflict between China and Taiwan since the 1980s by the Strategic Ambiguity (SA) policy, which discourages both sides from deviating from the status quo (SQ) by not committing to defend or not to defend Taiwan. The recent US-China tensions and the increasing nationalism in China and Taiwan drew critics to SA and suggested it be replaced with strategic clarity. We argue that the choice of Dual Clarity (DC) – the US promises to defend only if Taiwan did not provoke first – is widely ignored. We develop an updated game-theoretical model incorporating the rising nationalism in China and Taiwan and examine the psychological motivations through a pre-registered within-subject survey experiment in Taiwan (n=910). The model indicates that DC’s capacity to maintain the SQ is the same as S, and the survey confirms our theoretical expectations.