Taiwan Presidential Debate 2024: Political Analyst Courtney Donovan Smith’s Insights on the Upcoming Election

Felicia Lin
4 min readJan 12, 2024

On December 30th there was a debate held between Taiwan’s three presidential candidates Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) nominee Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), the Kuomintang (KMT) nominee and Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) nominee. The three candidates started with eight minutes each to present their candidacy, that was followed by a media question answer session, and then in the second half each candidate had a chance to question each other. I sat down and spoke with political commentator Courtney Donovan Smith who shared his thoughts and observations about the debate.

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

· How candidates were doing at the polls at the time of this interview was recorded (December 30, 2023)

· How undecided voters could influence the outcome of the presidential election

· How Courtney calculates the Taiwan News Poll of Polls

· How the presidential candidates performed in the first policy forum in comparison to the presidential debate

· The 60–70% of what was covered during the debate was related to China

· The second issue covered during the debate was properties owned by the three candidates

· Little time was spent on domestic issues like Taiwan’s low birth rate, and energy

· Each candidate’s position on China and how they would handle relations with China

· Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je and Lai Ching-te’s take on the 1992 Consensus

· How from China’s point of view, the 1992 Consenus includes acceptance of the One China principle

· How Hou You-yi wants to bring back the cross strait services pact

· Courtney’s opinion of the cross strait services pact

· How Ko Wen-je wants to pass the cross strait oversight bill

· During the debate Ko Wen-je claimed that the Sunflower Movement was a protest against black box political dealings and not a protest of the services trade pact, when it in fact was a protest about both black box political dealings and the services trade pact

· Each of the presidential candidate’s position on national defense spending

· Each of the presidential candidate’s position on extending or shortening military service

· The candidate’s policies on housing, death penalty and energy and nuclear power plants in Taiwan

· How Taiwan’s energy reserves are a matter of national security

· If younger voters care more about domestic issues or the China issue

· Courtney’s thoughts on watching Taiwan Plus’ broadcast of the debate with simultaneous English translation

· How Hou You-yi spoke some Taiwanese during the policy forum, debate

· The Kuomintang’s strategy behind picking Jaw — — as the vice presidential candidate

· How the KMT put Han Kuo-yu in the number one slot on their party list, which indicated that he is probably their candidate for the legislative speaker

Related Links:

Courtney Donovan Smith on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/courtney-donovan-smith-7ab5023/

Courtney Donovan Smith on X/Twitter: https://twitter.com/donovan_smith

William Lai (Lai Ching-te): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lai_Ching-te

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Progressive_Party

Hou You-yi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hou_Yu-ih

Kuomintang (KMT): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuomintang

Ko Wen-je: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko_Wen-je

Taiwan People’s Party (TPP): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan_People%27s_Party

Tsai Ing-wen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsai_Ing-wen

Final Taiwan News Poll of Polls, Jan 2: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/5070525

My Formosa: http://my-formosa.com/

Formosa poll: http://my-formosa.com/DOC_202390.htm

Survey Reveals How Alternative Voting Systems Reshape Taiwan 2024 Election Landscape: https://international.thenewslens.com/article/186724

VP Lai expresses his willingness to have dinner and bubble tea with Chinese president Xi Jinping: https://en.rti.org.tw/news/view/id/2009860

Xi Jinping: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xi_Jinping

One China principle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_China#:~:text=The%20One%20China%20principle%20is,an%20inalienable%20part%20of%20China

Cross strait services trade pact: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-Strait_Service_Trade_Agreement

Sunflower Movement: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunflower_Student_Movement

Taiwan’s Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050: https://www.ndc.gov.tw/en/Content_List.aspx?n=B154724D8

Peoples Liberation Army: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Liberation_Army

Taiwan’s opposition to unite on presidential ticket challenging frontrunner: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwans-opposition-parties-decide-joint-presidential-ticket-2023-11-15/

Jaw Shau-kong: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaw_Shaw-kong

New Party: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Party_(Taiwan)

Han Kuo-yu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_Kuo-yu

Kuomintang legacies linger from Taiwan’s martial law era: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4819217

Reliving the Sunflower Movement from Ground Zero: Jiho Chang Tells the Inside Story (Episode 174): https://talkingtaiwan.com/reliving-the-sunflower-movement-from-ground-zero-jiho-chang-tells-the-inside-story-ep-174/

Eric Chang: On the Unfolding Situation at the Legislative Yuan during the Sunflower Movement (Episode 231): https://talkingtaiwan.com/eric-chang-on-the-unfolding-situation-at-the-legislative-yuan-during-the-sunflower-movement-ep-231/

Michael Turton: Taipei Times Columnist Talks About the 1992 Consensus (Episode 257): https://talkingtaiwan.com/michael-turton-taipei-times-columnist-talks-about-the-1992-consensus-ep-257/

Hsin-Tai Wu: From Cardiovascular Surgeon to Joining the Taiwan State Building Party (Episode 264): https://talkingtaiwan.com/hsin-tai-wu-from-cardiovascular-surgeon-to-joining-the-taiwan-state-building-party-ep-264/

Taiwan FactCheck Center: Discussing the Disinformation Related to Taiwan’s 2024 Presidential Election (Episode 268):


LISTEN to Episode 270: Taiwan Presidential Debate 2024: Political Analyst Courtney Donovan Smith’s Insights on the Upcoming Election HERE

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Felicia Lin

Felicia Lin is the producer and host of Talking Taiwan, the longest running Taiwan-related podcast, and Golden Crane Podcast Award Winner.