SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Of floating ghosts and red envelopes: Comparing party systems in Northeast Asia

Olli Hellmann 485 186 56
Speaker: Dr Olli Hellmann

Date: 18 February 2016Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 18 February 2016Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Seminar


Party systems in the three democracies of Northeast Asia are relatively strong performers in terms of governance outputs. However, closer inspection reveals certain weaknesses: while political parties in Japan and South Korea are mere “ghosts without feet,” lacking formally institutionalized grassroots organizations that would enable citizens’ participation in party internal decision-making processes, the Taiwanese party system continues to be strongly structured around clientelistic linkages, with political parties targeting certain voter groups with “red envelopes” rather than public goods. The paper will not only discuss the implications for democratic quality that stem from these weaknesses, but it will also highlight factors that can help explain why Northeast Asian party systems have so far not been able to overcome their deficiencies.

Speaker's Bio

Olli Hellmann is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sussex. Olli’s research on party organization and party systems in East Asia has been published in a monograph with Palgrave Macmillan (Political Parties and Electoral Strategy: The Development of Party Organization in East Asia) and a number of peer-reviewed journals, such as Party Politics and the Journal of East Asian Studies. More recently, the focus of Olli’s research agenda has shifted towards issues of state building and corruption. Funding for this new research programme has come from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the British Academy/DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Partnership.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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