Democracy in Action: A Campaign Rally from the 2012 Taiwanese Presidential Elections

Our first meeting on the election study trip took us to AIT, the American Institute in Taiwan. Unfortunately, Professor Freeman was unable to make her connecting flight in Japan but she met up with us later in the afternoon. Photo by Cristina Garafola.

Later in the day, we visited the Central Election Commission (CEC) to learn about the development of Taiwan’s electoral system and campaign regulations on presidential and legislative candidates.  From left to right, Professors Brown and Lampton listening to CEC chairwoman and Hopkins alumna Dr. Chang describe the electoral process. Photo by Jingbo Jing.

The group poses with a caricature of Ma Ying-jeou at the KMT’s campaign headquarters. The airplane banner touts the expansion of the no-visa travel program under Ma’s first term. Taiwan was recently made a candidate for the U.S. program to eliminate visas for some non-U.S. citizens, and the announcement made waves during the campaign. Photo by Cristina Garafola.

A panel and student exchange at the Graduate Institute of International Politics at National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan. In total, the group participated in three such exchanges with Taiwanese graduate students. Professors Freeman, Brown, and Lampton as well as SAIS students listen in as Dr. Tsai responds to a question posed by students. Photo by Jingbo Jing.

On the high-speed train from Taichung back to Taipei, SAISers Katie Wei-ruo Xiao and Charlotte Chiang flash peace signs (or victory signs as they’re sometimes called in Asia) with Professor Brown. Photo by Jingbo Jing.

The inaugural SAIS Taipei Alumni Club event. Club president Dr. Chi Su gives a welcoming speech as current SAISers and alumni look on. Photo by Jingbo Jing.

Members of the SAIS Taipei Alumni Club pose for a group photo after the end of an enjoyable night reconnecting with friends and fellow alumni.

A political rally on the eve of the election. The election study group had hoped to visit rallies for both the KMT and the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party), but intense traffic as supporters streamed to the rallies meant we could only attend a DPP rally. Photo by Cristina Garafola.

These supporters are holding flags for the Tsai-Su DPP ticket. The “1” on the flags and featured prominently above the stage signifies that the DPP ticket is listed first on the ballot for this year’s election. Photo by Cristina Garafola.

Visiting the CEC’s Counting and Information Center to view the ballot counting on election night. Domestic and foreign media came here after the polls closed to await the official result of the election. Photo by Jingbo Jing.

Students and professors analyze the results as data comes in from the polling stations on presidential and legislative votes. From left to right, bottom left corner Yi Liu and Katie Wei-ruo Xiao; middle Cristina Garafola, Professor Lampton, Michelle Louie, Professor Brown, and Alex Bellah. Photo by Jingbo Jing.

A short break at the 2/28 Memorial Park. The memorial commemorates the 228 Incident in which anti-government protestors were crushed by the KMT in 1947. During the trip, SAIS students learned about the ROC’s historical and cultural legacies by visiting places like the memorial park, museums, and other sites in Taipei. From left to right, Charlotte Chiang, Alex Bellah, Shelley Su, Yi Liu, Katie Wei-ruo Xiao, Katherine Forshay, Rebecca Lee, and Michelle Louie. Photo by Jingbo Jing.

A final group shot in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. Photo by Cristina Garafola.

During the rally, DPP leaders shouted the candidates’ names and rally goers responded in Taiwanese with “dong suan” (“dang xuan” in Mandarin), which means “win the election!” Photo by Cristina Garafola.

Cristina Garafola
Cristina Garafola

Cristina Garafola is an MA candidate at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She is interested in the ramifications of China's rise for its global status and its relationship with the United States. Cristina has previously worked at the U.S. Department of State and is currently an admissions blogger for SAIS; more of her photos can be seen at