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Confucianism with a Liberal Face: The Meaning of Democratic Politics in Postcolonial Taiwan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2009


Neither cultural conversion to Western liberalism nor resort to local traditions such as Confucianism adequately deals with the hybrid nature of democratization in a postcolonial context. With its assortment of Chinese, Japanese, American, and Taiwanese hegemonic legacies, Taiwan offers a case in point. Its version of democratic politics operates across three contending normative domains: liberal political institutions, Confucian rationales for power, and Taiwanese nativist/nationalist sensibilities. Some may despair at this “distortion” of the (Western) liberal democratic ideal. We suggest, alternatively, that the contentious and unstable nature of liberal politics in Taiwan may render its polity more open-ended and organic, with simultaneous potential for both authoritarianism and democratization.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Notre Dame 1998

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44 The National Assembly no longer elects the president but retains the authority to approve the president's nomination of the head of the Control, Justice, and Examination Yuans as well as their council members. The NDC proposal, in effect, would remove the premier, who chairs the Executive Yuan, from the Legislative Yuan's jurisdiction and shift his political allegiance completely to the president. Additionally, this proposal would allow President Lee to send the premier's cabinet to the National Assembly, thereby installing a de facto presidential caucus.

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