The Trump Phenomenon:What it means for Taiwan

The possibility of a Gou candidacy in Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election has become one of the hottest topics in local media. Several political commentators, including former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) and former news anchor Lee Yen-chiou (李艷秋), have clamored for a Gou 2020 campaign, likening him to the larger-than-life tycoon that is Trump.

Trump was elected on a wave of anti-establishment sentiment and anxiety in a world still troubled both by slow economic recovery seven years after the Great Recession and by destabilizing factors such as the Islamic State. Such sentiment is even stronger among people with conservative worldviews who are witnessing the sea change in social issues such as same-sex marriage. For them, the world that they once found familiar and comfortable seems to be fading away against their will.

Similar anti-establishment frustration and anger are already yielding substantial influence on politics in Taiwan. The mass protests that consummated in the Sunflower Movement in 2014, in which demonstrators occupied the Legislative Yuan and stormed the Executive Yuan, were the manifestations of public distrust of the then Kuomintang (KMT) government. While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rode the anti-government trend to its unprecedented victory in 2016 elections by claiming both the presidency and the legislative majority, public frustration persists. Protesters return to the streets and President Tsai Ing-wen has seen her approval ratings drop almost constantly since she came to power in May.

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