Two aspects are important in this regard:
First, the strength of the KMT at some local levels has not led to a more invigorating KMT at the national level. The party is still led by a number of lackluster old-guard members like veteran politician Wu Den-yi, and it hasn’t been able to attract a new generation of young members who are turned off by the KMT’s worn-out pro-unificationist policies of yesteryear.
Second, the decrease in the popularity of President Tsai Ing-wen, and the resulting reduced support for the DPP, is primarily prompted by the fact that many of her mostly young supporters of the Sunflower generation feel dissatisfied with the slow rate of reforms and progress. The Sunflower protestors had high expectations, and want the President to move farther and faster on a range of issues.
Thus, if the DPP’s loss in these mid-term elections is relatively small, then President Tsai and her administration will probably move forward along the current policy lines, with relatively minor adjustments. However, if the DPP’s loss is significant, then she needs to find new ways to recharge her powerbase and look for approaches that are more forward-leaning and perhaps less cautious.
As is always the case in a democracy: it is the voice of the electorate that counts. The people of Taiwan will have another opportunity to have their voice heard on November 24.
Gerrit van der Wees is a former Dutch diplomat. Between 1980 and 2016 he served as editor of Taiwan Communique. Currently, he teaches History of Taiwan at George Mason University.