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From Opposition to Power: Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party

Shelley Rigger
ISBN: 978-1-55587-969-3
2001/225 pages/LC: 00-068840

"A sure-footed, lucid account of the complex personalities and factions that came together in 1986 to form the DPP."—Andrew J. Nathan, American Political Science Review

"The DPP's ... dramatic rise to power and the party's current policies and future evolution are greatly illuminated by Shelly Rigger's up-close account of [its] history, organization, policies, and personnel.... Provid[es] much new and valuable information and insight."—Andrew J. Nathan, Perspectives on Politics

"A welcome addition to the literature on Taiwan's political development and democratization."—Jerry McBeath, American Journal of Chinese Studies

"In this important book, Shelley Rigger provides a useful perspective on Taiwan's political democratization through a sober analysis of Taiwan's second major political party, the DPP.... Rigger is to be congratulated for this ‘must read' addition to the fascinating and important topic of Taiwan's democratization."—J. Bruce Jacobs, Journal of Asian Studies

"Recommended at all levels."—Choice

"A comprehensive account of the formation, establishment and growth of the DPP that marks a step in redressing the tendency to attribute Taiwan's democratic achievements to the Kuomintang (KMT) ... written in clear and excellent prose.... It is essential reading for anyone trying to keep up with the rapid changes occurring in Taiwan."—Christopher R. Hughes, International Affairs

"A major contribution."—Bruce Dickson, George Washington University


On March 18, 2000, Taiwan's voters stunned the world by choosing Chen Shui-bian, the candidate of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to be their president. A host of new issues quickly became the subject of debate. What is the DPP? Where did it come from and what does it stand for? How will it use its newly won power? Will it risk war with mainland China in pursuit of independence?

Addressing these questions, From Opposition to Power provides a comprehensive overview of the DPP, its history, policies, and structure. Rigger traces the party's origins in opposition movements of the 1960s and 1970s and recounts how it was founded in defiance of martial law in 1986. She then analyzes its internal conflicts over policy and power and explains the party's changing stance on such issues as Taiwan's independence, international relations, and economic policy. A key theme is the role the DPP has played in promoting democratization and fair competition in Taiwan.

The first book in English to focus on this influential new power, Rigger's study is a must read for those hoping to understand and anticipate events in East Asia.


Shelley Rigger is Brown Associate Professor of East Asian Politics at Davidson College. Her publications include Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy.


  • Introduction.
  • A Brief History of the DPP.
  • Roadblocks on the DPP's Path to Power.
  • Organization.
  • Factionalism.
  • Decisionmaking.
  • Platform, Policy, and Strategy.
  • How the Public Views the DPP.
  • Breakthrough to Power: The March 18, 2000, Presidential Election.
  • The DPP Enters the Twenty-First Century.
  • Appendix: Rising Stars in the Young Generation.