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Democratic Progressive Party

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Democratic Progressive Party
ChairpersonLai Ching-te
Secretary-GeneralYang Yi-shan (acting)
Founded28 September 1986; 37 years ago (1986-09-28)
Split fromTangwai
Headquarters10F-30, Beiping East Rd.
Zhongzheng District, Taipei, Taiwan
Think tankNew Frontier Foundation [zh]
Membership (2023)Decrease 238,664[2]
Political positionCentre to centre-left[B]
National affiliationPan-Green Coalition
Regional affiliationCouncil of Asian Liberals and Democrats[4]
International affiliationLiberal International
Colors  Green
Legislative Yuan
51 / 113
Municipal mayors
2 / 6
3 / 16
277 / 910
Township/city mayors
40 / 204
Party flag
www.dpp.org.tw Edit this at Wikidata

^ A: Taiwan independence is written in the DPP platform, but main DPP politicians support Huadu (ROC independence) position.
^ B: The DPP has also been characterized as centrist[5] on an international political spectrum because of its historical positioning as the major big tent opposition party supporting democracy. It is also sometimes described as right-wing by pro-China or pro-communism media outlets owing to its anti-communism.[6]
Democratic Progressive Party
Traditional Chinese民主進步黨
Simplified Chinese民主进步党
Traditional Chinese民進黨
Simplified Chinese民进党

The Democratic Progressive Party[I] (DPP)[II] is a Taiwanese nationalist and centre to centre-left political party in Taiwan.[7][8][9] It is currently the major ruling party in Taiwan, controlling both the presidency and the central government, also the dominant party in the Pan-Green Coalition.

Founded in 1986 by Hsu Hsin-liang, Hsieh Tsung-min and Lin Shui-chuan,[10][11] a year prior to the end of martial law, the DPP is one of two major parties in Taiwan, the other being the historically dominant Kuomintang (KMT), which previously ruled the country as a one-party state. It has traditionally been associated with a strong advocacy of human rights, emerging against the authoritarian White Terror that was initiated by the KMT, as well as the promotion of Taiwanese nationalism and identity. Lai Ching-te is the current chairperson of the DPP from 2023, who also serves as the incumbent President and is the third member of the DPP to hold the presidency.

The DPP is a longtime member of Liberal International and a founding member of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats. It represented Taiwan in the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). The DPP is widely classified as socially liberal having been founded as a party for human rights, including factions within the party supporting same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights. On foreign policy, the DPP is more willing to increase military expenditures to prevent military intimidation from the People's Republic of China (PRC) owing to the ambiguous political status of Taiwan. It favors closer ties with democratic nations such as Japan and the United States, as well as the nations of ASEAN as part of its New Southbound Policy. The party is frequently accused by the PRC government of being a primary force in Taiwan to "prevent the Chinese nation from achieving complete reunification" and "halt the process of national rejuvenation"[12] due to the party's outspoken advocacy of the Taiwanese nationalism, its supportive attitude to Taiwanese enjoying the right to decide their own future,[13][14] and its firm opposition to the notion of "One China", including the alleged "1992 Consensus" narratives by both the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and KMT.


The DPP's roots were in the Tangwai movement, which formed in opposition to the Kuomintang's one-party authoritarian rule under the "party-state" system during martial law. This movement culminated in the formation of the DPP as an alternative, but still illegal, party on 28 September 1986 by eighteen organizing members at Grand Hotel Taipei, with a total of 132 people joining the party in attendance. The new party members contested the 1986 election as "nonpartisan" candidates since competing parties would remain illegal until the following year. These early members of the party, like the tangwai, drew heavily from the ranks of family members and defense lawyers of political prisoners, as well as intellectuals and artists who had spent time abroad. These individuals were strongly committed to political change toward democracy and freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association.[15][16]

The tangwai were not a unified political unit and consisted of factions which carried over into the early DPP. At its founding the DPP consisted of three factions: the Kang group ,a moderate faction led by Kang Ning-hsiang, New Tide faction, consisting of intellectuals and social activists led by Wu Nai-ren and Chiou I-jen, and the Progress Faction led by Lin Cheng-chieh, a waishengren opposed to independence. Moderates would later coalesce around the Formosa faction, founded by those arrested during the Formosa Incident after their release from prison. In the early days of the party, the Formosa faction focused on winning elections by wielding the star power of its leaders, while New Tide would focus on ideological mobilization and developing grassroots support for social movements. As a result, the Formosa faction would become more moderate, often bending to public opinion, while New Tide would become more ideologically cohesive. By 1988 the Formosa Faction would dominate high-level positions within the party.[17]

The party did not at the outset give explicit support to an independent Taiwanese national identity, partially because moderates such as Hsu Hsin-liang were concerned that such a move that could have invited a violent crackdown by the Kuomintang and alienate voters, but also because some members such as Lin Cheng-chieh supported unification. Partially due to their waning influence within the party and partially due to their ideological commitment, between 1988 and 1991 the New Tide Faction would push the independence issue, bolstered by the return of pro-independence activists from overseas who were previously barred from Taiwan. In 1991, in order to head off the New Tide, party chairman Hsu Hsin-liang of the moderate Formosa faction agreed to include language in the party charter which advocated for the drafting of a new constitution as well as declaration of a new Republic of Taiwan via referendum (which resulted in many pro-unification members leaving the party).[18][19] However, the party would quickly begin to walk back on this language, and eventually in 1999 the party congress passed a resolution that Taiwan was already an independent country, under the official name "Republic of China", and that any constitutional changes should be approved by the people via referendum, while emphasizing the use of the name "Taiwan" in international settings.[20]

Despite its lack of electoral success, the pressure that the DPP created on the ruling KMT via its demands are widely credited in the political reforms of the 1990s, most notably the direct popular election of Republic of China's president and all representatives in the National Assembly and Legislative Yuan, as well the ability to open discuss events from the past such as the February 28 Incident and its long aftermath of martial law, and space for a greater variety of political views and advocacy. Once the DPP had representation in the Legislative Yuan, the party used the legislature as a forum to challenge the ruling KMT.

In 1996, DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh united with the New Party to run for the President of the Legislative Yuan, but lost by one vote. The vote that was missing was legislator Chang Chin-cheng's failure to vote for Shih. As a result, Chang was expelled from the DPP.

Post-democratization, the DPP shifted their focus to anti-corruption issues, in particular regarding KMT connections to organized crime as well as "party assets" illegally acquired from the government during martial law.[21] Meanwhile, factions continued to form within the DPP as a mechanism for coalition-building within the party; notably, future President Chen Shui-bian would form the Justice Alliance faction.

2000–2008: in minority government[edit]

Former President Chen Shui-bian, the first DPP President (2000-2008)
Old DPP logo

The DPP won the presidency with the election of Chen Shui-bian in March 2000 with a plurality, due to Pan-Blue voters splitting their vote between the Kuomintang and independent candidate James Soong, ending 91 years of KMT rule in the Republic of China. Chen softened the party's stance on independence to appeal to moderate voters, appease the United States, and placate China. He also promised not to change the ROC state symbols or declare formal independence as long as the People's Republic of China did not attack Taiwan. Further, he advocated for economic exchange with China as well as the establishment of transportation links.[21]

In 2002, the DPP became the first party other than the KMT to reach a plurality in the Legislative Yuan following the 2001 legislative election. However, a majority coalition between the KMT, People First Party, and New Party prevented it from taking control of the chamber. This coalition was at odds with the presidency from the beginning, and led to President Chen's abandonment of the centrist positions that he ran his campaign on.[21]

In 2003, Chen announced a campaign to draft a referendum law as well as a new constitution, a move which appealed to the fundamentalist wing of the DPP. By now, the New Tide faction had begun to favor pragmatic approaches to their pro-independence goals and dominated decision-making positions within the party. By contrast, grassroots support was divided largely between moderate and fundamentalist wings. Though Chen's plans for a referendum on a new constitution were scuttled by the legislature, he did manage to include a largely symbolic referendum on the PRC military threat to coincide with the 2004 presidential election.[21] President Chen Shui-bian would be narrowly re-elected in 2004 after an assassination attempt the day before the election, and in the later legislative election, the pan-blue coalition opposition retained control of the chamber.

President Chen's moves sparked a debate within the party between fundamentalists and moderates who were concerned that voters would abandon their party. The fundamentalists won out, and as a result the DPP would largely follow Chen's lead. The DPP suffered a significant election defeat in nationwide local and county elections in December 2005, while the pan-blue coalition captured 16 of 23 county and city government offices under the leadership of popular Taipei mayor and KMT Party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou. Moderates within the party would blame this loss on the party's fundamentalist turn.[21]

The results led to a shake up of the party leadership. Su Tseng-chang resigned as DPP chairman soon after election results were announced. Su had pledged to step down if the DPP lost either Taipei County or failed to win 10 of the 23 mayor/magistrate positions. Vice President Annette Lu was appointed acting DPP leader. Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun was elected in a three-way race against legislator Chai Trong-rong and Wong Chin-chu with 54.4% of the vote.

Premier Frank Hsieh, DPP election organizer and former mayor of Kaohsiung twice tendered a verbal resignation immediately following the election, but his resignation was not accepted by President Chen until 17 January 2006 after the DPP chairmanship election had concluded. The former DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang was appointed to replace Hsieh as premier. Hsieh and his cabinet resigned en masse on 24 January to make way for Su and his new cabinet. President Chen had offered the position of Presidential Office Secretary-General (vacated by Su) to the departing premier, but Hsieh declined and left office criticizing President Chen for his tough line on dealing with China.

In 2005, following the passage of the Anti-Secession Law, the Chen administration issued a statement asserting the position that Taiwan's future should be decided by the people on Taiwan only.[22]

Separate identity from China[edit]

On 30 September 2007, the DPP approved a resolution asserting a separate identity from China and called for the enactment of a new constitution for a "normal nation". It struck an accommodating tone by advocating general use of "Taiwan" as the country's name without calling for abandonment of the name Republic of China.[23]

Tsai Ing-wen, the second DPP President (2016–present) and the leader of the DPP (2008–2022). Tsai is the first female leader of the DPP.

2008–2016: return to opposition[edit]

In the national elections held in early months of 2008, the DPP won less than 25% of the seats (38.2% vote share) in the new Legislative Yuan while its presidential candidate, former Kaohsiung mayor Frank Hsieh, lost to KMT candidate Ma Ying-jeou by a wide margin (41.55% vs. 58.45%). In May, the DPP elected moderate Tsai Ing-wen as their new leader over fundamentalist Koo Kwang-ming.[21] Tsai became the first female leader of the DPP and the first female leader to lead a major party in Taiwan.

The first months since backed to the opposition were dominated by press coverage of the travails of Chen Shui-bian and his wife Wu Shu-jen. On 15 August 2008, Chen resigned from the DPP and apologized: "Today I have to say sorry to all of the DPP members and supporters. I let everyone down, caused you humiliation and failed to meet your expectations. My acts have caused irreparable damage to the party. I love the DPP deeply and am proud of being a DPP member. To express my deepest regrets to all DPP members and supporters, I announce my withdrawal from the DPP immediately. My wife Wu Shu-jen is also withdrawing from the party." DPP Chairperson followed with a public statement on behalf of the party: "In regard to Chen and his wife's decision to withdraw from the party and his desire to shoulder responsibility for his actions as well as to undergo an investigation by the party's anti-corruption committee, we respect his decision and accept it."[24]

The DPP vowed to reflect on public misgivings towards the party. Chairperson Tsai insisted on the need for the party to remember its history, defend the Republic of China's sovereignty and national security, and maintain its confidence.[25][26]

The party re-emerged as a voice in Taiwan's political debate when Ma's administration reached the end of its first year in office. The DPP marked the anniversary with massive rallies in Taipei and Kaohsiung. Tsai's address to the crowd in Taipei on 17 May proclaimed a "citizens' movement to protect Republic of China" seeking to "protect our democracy and protect Republic of China."[27]

2016–2024: in majority government[edit]

On 16 January 2016, Taiwan held a general election for its presidency and for the Legislative Yuan. The DPP gained the presidential seat, with the election of Tsai Ing-wen, who received 56.12% of the votes, while her opponent Eric Chu gained 31.2%.[28] In addition, the DPP gained a majority of the Legislative Yuan, winning 68 seats in the 113-seat legislature, up from 40 in 2012 election, thus giving them the majority for the first time in its history.[29]

President Tsai won reelection in the 2020 Taiwanese presidential election on 11 January 2020, and the Democratic Progressive Party retained its legislative majority, winning 61 seats.

2024–present: return to minority government[edit]

The 13 January 2024 presidential election and legislative elections led to the election of Lai Ching-te who won with 40.1% of the votes, while his opponents, Hou Yu-ih of the KMT had 33.5% of the votes, and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People's Party with 26.5% of the vote. In addition, this election made the DPP the first party to win three consecutive presidential terms since direct elections were introduced in 1996. The DPP was unable to retain its majority in the Legislative Yuan, losing ten seats.[30][31]

Ideology and policies[edit]

The DPP is a centre[32] to centre-left party[33][34][7][35] generally described as progressive.[36][37][38][39][40] It has also been described as liberal,[40][41] as well as social democratic.[41][42][43] The party takes a Taiwanese nationalist position, advocating for strengthening Taiwanese identity.[33] Programs supported by the party include moderate social welfare policies involving the rights of women, senior citizens, children, young people, labor, minorities, indigenous peoples, farmers, and other disadvantaged sectors of the society. Furthermore, its platform includes a legal and political order based on human rights and democracy; balanced economic and financial administration; fair and open social welfare; educational and cultural reform; and, independent defense and peaceful foreign policy with closer ties to United States and Japan. The party is socially liberal[41][44] and has a progressive stance that includes support for gender equality and same-sex marriage under Tsai's leadership, and also has a conservative base that includes support from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.

Stance on Taiwanese independence[edit]

The primary political axis in Taiwan involves the issue of Taiwan independence versus Chinese unification. Although the differences tend to be portrayed in polarized terms, both major coalitions have developed modified, nuanced and often complex positions. Though opposed in the philosophical origins, the practical differences between such positions can sometimes be subtle.

The current official position of the party is that Taiwan is an independent and sovereign country whose territory consists of Taiwan and its surrounding smaller islands and whose sovereignty derives only from the ROC citizens living in Taiwan (similar philosophy of self-determination), based on the 1999 "Resolution on Taiwan's Future". It considers Taiwan an independent nation under the name of Republic of China, making a formal declaration of independence unnecessary.[20] Though calls for drafting a new constitution and a declaration of a Republic of Taiwan was written into the party charter in 1991,[19] the 1999 resolution has practically superseded the earlier charter. The DPP rejects the so-called "One China principle" defined in 1992 as the basis for official diplomatic relations with the PRC and advocates a Taiwanese national identity which is separate from mainland China.[45]

By contrast, the KMT or pan-blue coalition agrees that the Republic of China is an independent and sovereign country that is not part of the PRC, but argues that a one China principle (with different definitions across the strait) can be used as the basis for talks with China. The KMT also opposes Taiwan independence and argues that efforts to establish a Taiwanese national identity separated from the Chinese national identity are unnecessary and needlessly provocative. Some KMT conservative officials have called efforts from DPP "anti-China" (opposing migrants from mainland China, who DPP officials did not recognize as Taiwanese, but Chinese). At the other end of the political spectrum, the acceptance by the DPP of the symbols of the Republic of China is opposed by the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

The first years of the DPP as the ruling party drew accusations from the opposition as a self-styled Taiwanese nationalist party, the DPP was itself inadequately sensitive to the ethnographic diversity of Taiwan's population. Where the KMT had been guilty of Chinese chauvinism, the critics charged, the DPP might offer nothing more as a remedy than Hoklo chauvinism.[46] The DPP argues that its efforts to promote a Taiwanese national identity are merely an effort to normalize a Taiwanese identity repressed during years of authoritarian Kuomintang rule.


Since the democratization of Taiwan in the 1990s, the DPP has had its strongest performance in the Hokkien-speaking counties and cities of Taiwan, compared with the predominantly Hakka and Mandarin-speaking counties, that tend to support the Kuomintang.

The deep-rooted hostility between Taiwanese aborigines and (Taiwanese) Hoklo, and the effective KMT networks within aboriginal communities contribute to aboriginal skepticism against the DPP and the aboriginals‘ tendency to vote for the KMT.[47] Aboriginals have criticized politicians for abusing the "indigenization" movement for political gains, such as aboriginal opposition to the DPP's "rectification" by recognizing the Truku for political reasons, where the Atayal and Seediq slammed the Truku for their name rectification.[48] In 2008, the majority of mountain townships voted for Ma Ying-jeou.[49] However, the DPP share of the aboriginal vote has been rising.[50][51]


DPP headquarters at Huashan Business Building Level 10 in Taipei.[52]

The DPP National Party Congress selects, for two-year terms, the 30 members of the Central Executive Committee and the 11 members of the Central Review Committee. The Central Executive Committee, in turn, chooses the 10 members of the Central Standing Committee. Since 2012, the DPP has had a "China Affairs Committee" to deal with Cross-Strait relations; the name caused some controversy within the party and in the Taiwan media, with critics suggesting that "Mainland Affairs Committee" or "Cross-Strait Affairs Committee" would show less of a hostile "One Country on Each Side" attitude.[53]


For many years the DPP officially recognized several factions within its membership, such as the New Tide faction (新潮流系), the Formosa faction (美麗島系), the Justice Alliance faction (正義連線系) and Welfare State Alliance faction (福利國系). Different factions endorse slightly different policies and are often generationally identifiable, representing individuals who had entered the party at different times. In 2006, the party ended recognition of factions.[54] The factions have since stated that they will comply with the resolution. However, the factions are still referred to by name in national media.[55][56]

As of 2022, Taiwan News identified at least 7 factions within the party:[57]



  • Current Secretary-General: Lin Hsi-yao (since May 2020)

Legislative Yuan leader (caucus leader)[edit]

Election results[edit]

Presidential elections[edit]

Election Candidate Running mate Total votes Share of votes Outcome
1996 Peng Ming-min Frank Hsieh Chang-ting 2,274,586 21.13% Defeated
2000 Chen Shui-bian Annette Lu Hsiu-lien 4,977,737 39.30% Elected
2004 6,446,900 50.11% Elected
2008 Frank Hsieh Chang-ting Su Tseng-chang 5,445,239 41.55% Defeated
2012 Tsai Ing-wen Su Jia-chyuan 6,093,578 45.63% Defeated
2016 Chen Chien-jen ( Ind.) 6,894,744 56.12% Elected
2020 Lai Ching‑te 8,170,231 57.13% Elected
2024 Lai Ching-te Hsiao Bi-khim 5,586,019 40.05% Elected

Legislative elections[edit]

Election Total seats won Total votes Share of votes Changes Party leader Status President
21 / 130
Huang Hsin-chieh Minority Lee Teng-hui
51 / 161
2,944,195 31.0% Increase 30 seats Hsu Hsin-liang Minority
54 / 164
3,132,156 33.2% Increase 3 seats Shih Ming-teh Minority
70 / 225
2,966,834 29.6% Increase 16 seats Lin Yi-hsiung Minority
87 / 225
3,447,740 36.6% Increase 21 seats Chen Shui-bian Minority Chen Shui-bian
89 / 225
3,471,429 37.9% Increase 2 seats Minority
27 / 113
3,775,352 38.2% Decrease 62 seats Minority Ma Ying-jeou
40 / 113
4,556,526 34.6% Increase 13 seats Tsai Ing-wen Minority
68 / 113
5,370,953 44.1% Increase 28 seats Majority Tsai Ing-wen
61 / 113
4,811,241 33.98% Decrease 7 seats Cho Jung-tai Majority
51 / 113
4,981,060 36.16% Decrease 10 seats Lai Ching-te Minority Lai Ching-te

Local elections[edit]

Election Magistrates and mayors Councillors Township/city mayors Township/city council representatives Village chiefs Party leader
1 / 3
52 / 175
Shih Ming-teh
12 / 23
114 / 886
28 / 319
Hsu Hsin-liang
1 / 2
28 / 96
Lin Yi-hsiung
9 / 23
147 / 897
28 / 319
Chen Shui-bian
1 / 2
31 / 96
6 / 23
192 / 901
35 / 319
1 / 2
33 / 96
4 / 17
128 / 587
34 / 211
Tsai Ing-wen
2 / 5
130 / 314
220 / 3,757
13 / 22
291 / 906
54 / 204
194 / 2,137
390 / 7,836
6 / 22
238 / 912
40 / 204
151 / 2,148
285 / 7,744
5 / 22
277 / 910
35 / 204
123 / 2,139
226 / 7,748

National Assembly elections[edit]

Election Total seats won Total votes Share of votes Changes Party leader Status President
66 / 325
2,036,271 23.3% Increase66 seats Huang Shin-chieh Minority Lee Teng-hui
127 / 334
3,121,423 29.9% Increase33 seats Shih Ming-teh Minority
127 / 300
1,647,791 42.52% Increase28 seats Annette Lu Hsiu-lien Plurality Chen Shui-bian

See also[edit]


Words in native languages[edit]

  1. ^
  2. ^


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  2. ^ "民主進步黨第十七屆黨主席補選結果新聞稿". Democratic Progressive Party. 15 January 2023. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
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  12. ^ "Full Text: The Taiwan Question and China's Reunification in the New Era". ae.china-embassy.gov.cn. Retrieved 17 April 2023.
  13. ^ "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" (PDF). www.dpp.org.tw/en/. Retrieved 29 July 2023.
  14. ^ "MOFA rebuts China's false claims concerning Taiwan's sovereignty". en.mofa.gov.tw. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Taiwan). 26 April 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2023.
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  23. ^ "Taiwan party asserts separate identity from China - USATODAY.com". usatoday30.usatoday.com. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
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  33. ^ a b Carin Holroyd, ed. (2020). Introducing East Asia: History, Politics, Economy and Society. Routledge. ISBN 9781317409922. Launched in 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is one of the two main political parties in Taiwan. The DPP is a centre-left, pan-Green party with a Taiwanese nationalist, strongly antiCommunist focus.
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  40. ^ a b Kuo, Yu-Ying, ed. (2018). Policy Analysis in Taiwan. Policy Press. The Democratic Progressive Party, founded in 1986 by Hsu Hsin-liang, Hsieh Tsung-min and Lin Shui-chuan, is a progressive and liberal political party in Taiwan.
  41. ^ a b c Taiwan International Review, Volume 5. Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan, Mission in the United States. 1999. p. 13. The DPP resembles a cross - mix of Western social democratic and liberal values .
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