The Choice of Constitutional Amendments in a Young Democracy – From Indirect to Direct Election of the President in Taiwan

Da-chi Liao, Hui-chih Chang


This paper attempts to determine the kind of constitutional rule preferred in a young democracy when an institutional opportunity for constitutional change occurs. It adopts the standpoint of collective decision-making. This approach involves two crucial theoretical elements: the calculation of the interests of the political elite and the masses’ comprehension of what democracy is. The case studied here is Taiwan’s constitutional choice between the direct and indirect election of the president during the period from 1990 to 1994. The paper first examines how the political leaders might have used both the logic of power maximization and of power-loss minimization to choose their position on the issue. It then demonstrates that survey results indeed showed that respondents better understood the direct form of electing the president and therefore supported it over the indirect one. This support helped the direct form to eventually win out.

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