In Taiwan’s elections held on January 13, Lai Ching-te (賴清德), Taiwan’s current vice-president and the candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP, 民進黨), prevailed in the three-way presidential election with 5.59 million votes (a 40.05 percent plurality of the total vote). However, while the presidential contest received the overwhelming share of international media attention, another series of elections were held the same day that were arguably just as significant: all 113 seats of Taiwan’s unicameral legislature, the Legislative Yuan (LY, 立法院), were up for election for four-year terms.
Similar to the functions of the US Congress and legislative branches in other democratic states, the LY drafts laws, determines the government’s budget, and performs oversight of the executive branch. Accordingly, it is worth taking a closer look at the election results for seats in the LY, as well as what the composition of that body—and the relative balance of power amongst Taiwan’s competing political parties—will look like over the next four years. [Note: For a more detailed analysis of Taiwan’s presidential election, and a broader consideration of Taiwan’s elections overall, see: “Three Implications of Taiwan’s 2024 Presidential and Legislative Elections” by Russell Hsiao, elsewhere in this issue.]
The Composition of the Legislative Yuan
The Republic of China (ROC, 中華民國) Legislative Yuan is currently in its tenth class, and in its current form is organized per the provisions of a constitutional amendment passed in 2005.  There are a total of 113 seats in the chamber, meaning that a party must have possession of at least 57 seats in order to command an absolute majority.
The membership of the LY is comprised of legislators elected (or selected) in three categories:
- 73 regionally based district seats, in which candidates are elected using a “first-past-the-post” system (i.e., the candidate with the most votes wins the seat).
- 34 at-large seats are allocated by party-list proportional representation, in which a party’s total vote share determines the number of at-large seats they are allocated. The parties establish these lists of their selected nominees prior to the election, and must obtain at least 5 percent of the overall vote to be eligible for any appointments. At least half of the party list seats must be designated for women. 
- 6 seats are allocated to indigenous candidates (that is, representatives of Taiwan’s non-Han, native peoples) using a single, non-transferable vote, in which multiple winners are elected. This grouping is divided into two groups: the “lowland and highland aborigines,” with each group receiving 3 seats. 
In the current (and outgoing) Legislative Yuan (2020-2024), the DPP has held an absolute majority of 61 seats, thereby giving it effective control over all major levers of government. This has been a major boon for the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) Administration, which has been able to secure its budgetary priorities and pass most of its preferred legislation as a result. (A very different set of circumstances prevailed under the prior DPP administration of Chen Shui-bian [陳水扁] [2000-2008], during which “Pan-Blue” majorities in the LY blocked many of the administration’s policies.) Meanwhile, the Kuomintang (KMT, 國民黨) has held 38 seats, making it the largest opposition party; the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP, 民眾黨) has held 5 seats; and independent legislators and those from smaller parties (see below) held a combined total of 9 seats.
Image: A breakdown of the LY seats held by Taiwan’s competing political parties following the 2016, 2020, and 2024 elections. The DPP, while still holding the presidency for the next four years, has lost the absolute majorities it held in the ninth (2016) and tenth (2020) classes of the Legislative Yuan, while the TPP is positioned to play a potentially powerful kingmaker role between the DPP and KMT. (Image source: Central News Agency)
The 2024 Legislative Yuan Election Results
The 11th Legislative Yuan, whose legislators will assume their seats in February, will have no majority party. Notably, this is the first time since the 2004 elections that no party, or clear party coalition, has commanded a majority. The final tally of the 2024 LY elections made the KMT the largest party in the legislature, controlling 52 seats, narrowly edging out the 51 held by the DPP. The TPP increased its seats to 8, with the remaining two seats held by independents likely to caucus with the KMT. Compared to the numbers in the outgoing LY, the DPP lost 10 seats, the KMT gained 14 seats, and the TPP gained 3 seats. A few significant trends stand out in the voting, as noted below.
Trend #1: KMT Gains in Northern and Central Taiwan
The KMT’s gains (and the DPP’s attendant losses) came primarily from flipping a total of 15 DPP seats in northern and central Taiwan:
- Taipei City: The KMT flipped Taipei City Constituency 4.
- New Taipei City: The KMT flipped New Taipei City Constituencies 7, 8, and 9.
- Keelung: The KMT flipped the Keelung County at-large constituency seat.
- Taoyuan: The KMT flipped Taoyuan City Constituencies 1, 2, and 6.
- Taichung: The KMT flipped Taichung City Constituencies 2, 4, 5, and 6. The KMT also flipped the Taichung County at-large constituency seat.
- Nantou: The KMT flipped Nantou County Constituency 2.
- Yunlin County: The KMT flipped Yunlin County Constituency 1.
By contrast, the DPP gained only one seat: Pingtung County Constituency 2. (This seat was held by an independent who previously caucused with the DPP, making it an effective one-for-one swap.)
Although the Taipei City and New Taipei City constituency seats have swapped between the DPP and KMT periodically in recent electoral cycles, the DPP losses in Taichung are worthy of more discussion. Taichung has traditionally been a DPP stronghold: for example, in the 2020 LY elections, DPP candidates won 6 out of the 8 constituency seats. (The 2016 LY results were more divided, with the DPP winning 4 seats and the KMT winning 3 seats.) By contrast, in the coming LY, the KMT will control 6 out of the 8 constituency seats. If the DPP had retained those seats, they would have been the largest party in the LY with 55 seats to the KMT’s 48 seats. This would have put the DPP just short of a majority in the LY; but even without a majority, the DPP would have been in a stronger position to negotiate with the TPP to form a coalition.
Image: Former KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) shares a kiss with his wife while celebrating his re-election to Taichung’s Constituency 8 seat (January 13). (Image source: Central News Agency)
Trend #2: A Likely Kingmaker Role for the TPP
Because both leading parties (DPP and KMT) will lack a majority in the LY and are so close in terms of numbers of seats held, the TPP is positioned to play a potentially powerful kingmaker role. If the TPP were to enter into a coalition with either the DPP or the KMT, its 8 seats would allow for a decisive majority (of either 60 [or 62] in a KMT-led coalition, or else 59 in a DPP-led coalition). Thus far, it is uncertain as to which path the TPP will choose—or whether it might choose a third path of determining its votes on an independent, case-by-case basis.
Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the former Taipei City mayor and the chairman of the TPP, will likely have much sway over these decisions. Ko has a history of shifting support between both the “Pan-Green” and “Pan-Blue” sides of Taiwan’s political spectrum, often in a mercurial and unpredictable manner. Ko initially rose to fame because of his support for the 2014 Sunflower Movement (太陽花學運), which arose in opposition to the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA, 海峽兩岸服務貿易協議) with China. When Ko ran as an independent for the Taipei mayor’s office in 2014, the DPP chose not to run its own candidate and to endorse Ko instead (Ko subsequently won the election with 57.16 percent of the vote). Ko continued his loose alliance with DPP in the next electoral cycle, endorsing Tsai Ing-wen in the 2016 election.
However, Ko appeared to shift in a direction friendlier to the KMT in 2023. During the presidential election campaign, the KMT and TPP reached a tentative deal to put forward a joint presidential ticket. However, after disagreement as to who would become the presidential nominee on the ticket, the agreement fell apart in November 2023—spectacularly, on live television—and the KMT and TPP each proceeded with their own tickets (ultimately finishing second and third in the voting, respectively). The acrimonious implosion of the nascent KMT-TPP alliance likely left some bruised feelings—and Ko subsequently shifted back to more of a DPP-aligned stance, saying weeks before the election that he is “deep green at heart.”
However, it remains to be seen how the TPP will decide to use the outsized clout that its 8 seats will give it in the coming LY—and whether it will choose to lean “green” or “blue,” or else make ad hoc decisions based on individual issues (and the often-unpredictable whims of its leader).
Trend #3: The Wipeout of Smaller Parties
A third significant trend in the 2024 LY elections was the continued consolidation of seats for the DPP (as the core of the “Pan-Green” coalition) and the KMT (as the core of the “Pan-Blue” coalition). The People’s First Party (PFP, 親民黨) and New Party (NP, 新黨), both offshoots of the KMT that formerly operated as significant components of the Pan-Blue coalition, have failed to win seats for several years (since the 2012 and 2004 elections, respectively), and are effectively defunct.  More recently, smaller parties have contributed to the Pan-Green coalition: in the outgoing LY, the New Power Party (NPP, 時代力量) held 3 seats, while the Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP, 台灣基進) held a single seat, with both parties usually adding their votes to those of the DPP. However, these small parties will have no presence in the next LY: having failed to meet the necessary 5 percent national vote threshold, the NPP lost its 3 party-list seats, while and the TSP lost its one district seat prior to the elections. Similarly, the tiny Green Party (綠黨) won no seats, with its voting tally under 1 percent.  If such trends hold, language about “pan-” coalitions may cease to be meaningful, with politics now concentrated among the two large (DPP and KMT) and one smaller (TPP) parties.
The DPP suffered significant losses in the LY races—due likely in no small part to voter fatigue with the continued governance of the DPP, as well as discontent over economic and quality of life issues. This will likely impose constraints on the incoming Lai Administration far heavier than those faced by the Tsai Administration. The outcome of the 2024 LY elections means that Taiwan is likely to see divided government over the next four years: with the DPP controlling the executive branch, and a coalition of opposition parties possibly controlling the legislature. The DPP could still establish an effective majority in the LY if it is able to forge a close alliance with the TPP; while conversely, a tight KMT-TPP alliance would be able to block many of the new administration’s priorities in the legislature.
Once the new LY is seated in early February, a key indicator to watch will be the outcome of the race for President of the LY, or legislative speaker. With no party having an absolute majority, the speaker is likely to come from either the KMT or DPP. Any successful candidate will likely need to rely on TPP votes to secure a speakership bid in the first round of voting. Should no candidate secure a majority, a subsequent round of voting will occur, and the candidate obtaining the highest number of votes will assume the speakership. The DPP is likely to put forward You Si-kun (游錫堃), who served as the previous speaker in the LY and was re-elected in 2024 via the party list. Meanwhile, the KMT has already nominated as its candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the former mayor of Kaohsiung and the party’s presidential nominee in 2020. Han had previously announced that he would support a TPP candidate as the deputy speaker in the speakership elections, but as of the time of publication, KMT legislator Johnny Chiang had been put forth as the candidate for the deputy role. Whomever emerges as the winner, the TPP’s votes in the contest for speaker will provide a key indicator of the likely trajectory of the party alliances in the months to come.
The main point: The 2024 legislative elections saw significant losses for the DPP, and attendant gains for the KMT. No single party now commands a majority, and the smaller TPP party could be poised to play a crucial kingmaker role.
 Article 4 of Additional Articles added to the ROC Constitution: “Beginning with the Seventh Legislative Yuan, the Legislative Yuan shall have 113 members, who shall serve a term of four years, which is renewable after re-election. The election of members of the Legislative Yuan shall be completed within three months prior to the expiration of each term, in accordance with the following provisions, the restrictions in Article 64 and Article 65 of the Constitution notwithstanding: 1. Seventy-three members shall be elected from the Special Municipalities, counties, and cities in the free area. At least one member shall be elected from each county and city. 2. Three members each shall be elected from among the lowland and highland aborigines in the free area. 3. A total of thirty-four members shall be elected from the nationwide constituency and among citizens residing abroad.”
 A total of 34 of the 113 seats in the Legislative Yuan are voted in by party-list proportional representation. A party’s vote share must be higher than 5 percent nationally to win any seats. For every roughly 3 percent of the overall legislative vote a party gets, one seat is allocated to them in the Legislative Yuan. Therefore, based upon the vote share of the 2024 Legislative Yuan party vote, both the KMT and DPP were each allocated 13 seats and the TPP was allocated 8 seats.
 Taiwan’s indigenous population is divided into two classifications by the government: the “highland” and the “lowland” indigenous groups. The distinction between the two groups comes from the Japanese colonial era, when the seven original tribes living in Taiwan were put into two groups.
 The New Party continues a marginal existence as a fringe party, operating primarily as a PRC united front proxy. See: John Dotson, Chinese Information Operations against Taiwan: The “Abandoned Chess Piece” and “America Skepticism Theory”, Global Taiwan Institute (August 2023), pp. 6, 14-15. https://globaltaiwan.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/OR_ASTAW0807FINAL.pdf.
 The TSP’s Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) was actually gone prior to the January 2024 election. He had won Taichung City’s Number 2 Constituency in the 2020 Legislative Yuan election. He was successfully recalled in 2021 (with 77,899 votes for and 73,433 votes against, with a turnout of 51.72 percent). Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) of the DPP then won the seat with 51.8 percent of votes in a 2022 by-election. In the 2024 Legislative Election, Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恆) of the KMT won the seat with 53.19 percent of the vote.