DPP vote share in Aboriginal townships

This election keeps surprising me. Looking through the results today with a few Aboriginal friends, we stumbled on another “Holy crap, dude!” finding.

As everyone knows, the DPP has never done well among Aboriginal voters, to put it kindly. In recent years, the DPP has slowly started to make small inroads into this demographic. Usually you can draw a direct connection to growth in the DPP’s vote share and control of a national or local government. Since the DPP doesn’t control the national government and only controlled a few local governments (all of which they had already controlled for significant periods of time and thus had presumably already picked all the low hanging fruits), this election cycle didn’t seem too promising.

One consistent trend is that the DPP has always done better in local mayoral/magistrate elections than in national presidential/gubernatorial elections.

I looked at the DPP vote share in 30 primarily Aboriginal townships around Taiwan. This is by no means a perfect measure of Aboriginal voting patterns. For one thing, it almost completely ignores Amis voters, who generally live in townships with majority Han populations. If you have extremely good local knowledge, you can separate the Amis villages from the Han villages, but that is beyond my knowledge and would take a lot of time. This also ignores the Aborigines who live in urban areas. Nonetheless, this may provide important evidence of the actual underlying trend. Here are the aggregate DPP vote shares in the 30 Aboriginal townships for local and national elections over the past two decades.

aborigines DPP vote growth pre 2014


Look at the blue line for national elections first. If you ignore the peaks and valleys, you can see that the overall trend is a very slow increase. Now look at the red line for local elections. Again, if you ignore the peaks and valleys, it looks very similar to the national trend, except that it is about 10 points higher. Now look at the same chart with the 2014 data added:

aborigines DPP vote growth


This is an enormous leap into uncharted territory for the DPP. Moreover, this is the first major increase where I can’t point to DPP control of a national or local government.

I can’t say with any confidence what is happening. The obvious guess is that Aborigines, like the rest of the Taiwanese population, are fed up with the Ma government, and many previous supporters have voted for the DPP in protest. It will be interesting to see if the DPP can hold this support in the future.  Regardless, it is jarring to see the DPP win over a third of the votes in Aboriginal townships.

7 Responses to “DPP vote share in Aboriginal townships”

  1. lihan Says:

    This is an acute observation. If the trend is true, what DPP has done to inflict such change? Or, maybe “media” is again the factor?

  2. Joseph Wang Says:

    The answer seems pretty clear to me. The patronage networks are largely under the control of people like Wang Jyn-Ping, and Ma’s war against Wang means that those networks either stopped operating or started to defect.

    I’d put the aboriginal vote in the same category as Penghu. Once you have a civil war at the center, then the vote machine stops working.

  3. Glenn Says:

    I’m relatively new to following Taiwan elections. I would have thought that the aboriginal community would be supporting the DPP or independents over the KMT. Obviously I’m wrong. I’m curious why they support the KMT? Any articles that delves into this or insight you can offer? Thanks!

    • frozengarlic Says:

      Sorry, that question is too big to answer in a comment box.

    • Alain Says:

      Partly because Taiwanese aborigines and Fujian Han immigrants pre-Japanese period (population group which were to found the DPP) were historically opposed. The KMT which was brought to Taiwan by the mainland Chinese (who also are politically opposed to the now so-called “Benshengren”) was their only choice. This is a very-much-over simplified point-of-view but it may help you better understand Taiwan.

    • Andrew C. Says:

      In simplified way: Historically, Hoklo/Hokkien Han — being the predominance group — has various land/ethnic conflicts against aborigines. KMT developed strong local network (sometimes co-operate with existing tribal political power) during martial law era, and sometimes credited as “modernized” their society. Meanwhile, DPP has strong Hoklo/Hokkien background. During the first ten years of the formation of DPP, those members who are not Hoklo/Hokkien (includes Mainlander, Hakka, and aborigines) are even often being questioned by other members or supporters. This make aborigines reminds those history and not to believe that DPP will treat them well.

  4. Vol. 1 Issue 9 – Global Taiwan Institute Says:

    […] obvious” (經濟環境跟招募成果有明顯的關係). Aboriginal voters appear to have been swinging towards the DPP in recent years, the DPP has traditionally been strongest in the regions outside […]

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