Taiwan's national government is based on the constitution of 1946 (effective 1947, amended numerous times), which was drawn up to govern the whole of China; when the Nationalist government moved to Taiwan in 1949, most countries still recognized it as the government of all China, and it technically continues to adhere to that claim.
The president is the head of state; the president is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is made up of five branches; the office of the president is separate from these branches. The Executive Yuan is similar to a cabinet and is headed by the premier (who is the president of the Executive Yuan); the premier is appointed by Taiwan's president. The 113 members of the Legislative Yuan are elected (73 directly, 34 proportionally, and 6 by aboriginal inhabitants) for three-year terms. The Judicial Yuan is appointed by the president and serves as the highest judicial authority; the Control Yuan is in charge of censorship and such political matters as censure and impeachment; and the Examination Yuan supervises examinations for government positions. The dominant political party was long the conservative Kuomintang (KMT; the Nationalist party); the Democratic Progressive party, formed in 1986, is the other main party. Administratively, Taiwan is divided into 18 counties, five municipalities, and two special municipalities (Taipei and Kaohsiung).
Theoretically separate from the national government is the government of Taiwan province, which includes all of Taiwan except for the cities of Taipei and Kaohsing and a few islands off the mainland coast. The province is administered by a governor, which in 1994 became an elective post, and a 79-member provincial assembly.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.