Liberal Taiwan versus Illiberal South Korea: The Divergent Paths of Electoral Campaign Regulation
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Both South Korea and Taiwan are considered consolidated democracies, but the two countries have developed very different sets of electoral campaign regulations. While both countries had highly restrictive election laws during their authoritarian eras, they have diverged after democratic transition. South Korea still restricts campaigning activities, including banning door-to-door canvassing, prohibiting pre-official period campaigning, and restricting the quantity and content of literature. Taiwan has removed most campaigning restrictions, except for finance regulations. This study explores the causes of these divergent trajectories through comparative historical process tracing, using both archival and secondary sources. The preliminary findings suggest that the incumbency advantage and the containment of the leftist or opposition parties were the primary causes of regulation under the soft and hard authoritarian regimes of South Korea and Taiwan. The key difference was that the main opposition party as well as the ruling party in South Korea enjoyed the incumbency advantage but that opposition forces in Taiwan did not. As a result, the opposition in Taiwan fought for liberalization of campaign regulations, but that in South Korea did not. Democratization in Taiwan was accompanied by successive liberalizations in campaign regulation, but in South Korea the incumbent legislators affiliated with the ruling and opposition parties were both interested in limiting campaigning opportunities for electoral challengers.
Dr. Jong-sung You is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University. His research interests include comparative politics and the political economy of inequality, corruption, social trust, and freedom of expression. He conducts both cross-national quantitative studies and qualitative case studies, focusing on Korea and East Asia. He recently published a book entitled Democracy, Inequality and Corruption: Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines Compared with Cambridge University Press. His publications have appeared at American Sociological Review, Political Psychology, Journal of East Asian Studies, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Asian Perspective, Trends and Prospects, and Korean Journal of International Studies. He obtained his Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University and taught at UC San Diego. Before pursuing an academic career, he fought for democracy and social justice in South Korea.