Jan 17, 2013

Taiwan: Strong Democracy, According To Freedom House VP

At a 16 January 2013 press conference announcing the release of the “Freedom in the World 2013” report, Arch Puddington, Vice President for Research at Freedom House, described Taiwan as a functioning and free democracy.

Below is an article published by Focus Taiwan News Channel:


Taiwan remains one of the more impressive democracies in East Asia, with the country's democratic institutions appearing to function well, an executive of the U.S.-based human rights watchdog Freedom House said Wednesday [16 January 2013].

Arch Puddington, vice president for research of Freedom House, described Taiwan's two-party system as "vigorous," although the ruling Kuomintang is clearly in ascendancy.

"But everything I see about the functioning of Taiwanese democracy suggests to me that the freedoms in the country are not really in jeopardy right now," Puddington said in a news conference on the release of the "Freedom in the World 2013" report.

He pointed to a massive opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led demonstration held over the weekend, in which the policies of the KMT government were severely criticized.

Although there have been prosecutions of leading DPP members, they were, in most cases, eventually found not guilty, he said.

"The workings of Taiwanese democracy have basically prevented democratic institutions from being seriously eroded," he said.

Larry Diamond, a professor of political science and sociology at Stanford University who lived in Taiwan for two years and knows President Ma Ying-jeou, praised Ma as a man deeply committed to the rule of law and no interference with the judiciary.

Diamond said the problem experienced in Taiwan is more a matter of "prosecutorial zeal," which can also happen even in established liberal democracies.

In the Freedom House annual report, Taiwan was again rated a free country.

Taiwan was rated 1 out of 7 for political rights and 2 out of 7 for civil liberties (1 represents the highest level of freedom and 7 the least degree of freedom).