The establishment of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on September 28, 1986, marked the culmination of 100 years of struggle and sacrifice by the Taiwanese people for self-government.
In the late nineteenth century, when the Ching Dynasty's China claimed Taiwan as part of its territory, Taiwan became a pawn in political bargaining tables.
First ceded to Japan by China in the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895, Taiwan was then 'restored' to China at the end of World War II, in direct contradiction to the Atlantic Charter, signed by Roosevelt and Churchill, and purporting one of the major principles behind the war to be the "right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and… to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them."
1945 saw the Kuomintang (KMT) regime, losing ground to the Communist Party during the civil war in China, transfer its center to Taiwan, and following its complete defeat in 1949, the entire KMT regime fled to the Taiwan.
The KMT's authoritarian rule essentially created a period of colonial rule under martial law. However, several decades of outside opposition, oftentimes leading to severe crackdowns and imprisonment, along with socio-economic and both domestic and international changes politically, eventually paved the way for the formation of the DPP in 1986.
Even though illegal at the time as political parties were outlawed under martial law, the DPP emerged through the people’s demand of change. Proposing people's self-determination, the DPP appealed to ethnic Taiwanese, long regarded by the KMT's mainland constituency as inferior, second-class citizens.
Only one year after the DPP's founding, the government abolished martial law, thereby legalizing political parties. Institutional and legal reforms spurred on by the DPP followed, transforming Taiwan's political structure, including the first comprehensive parliamentary elections in 1992 and direct election of the President in 1996.
The DPP has been at the forefront of movements demanding social and political justice. Socially, the DPP has championed social welfare policies involving the rights of women, senior citizens, children, labor, indigenous peoples, farmers, and other disadvantaged sectors of society.
Politically, the DPP has lead and won battles for free speech, free press, the freedom of association, and respect for human rights.
Furthermore, the DPP distinguishes itself from the ruling KMT in its domestic social policies, efficient government and Taiwan value as its core.
Internationally, the DPP advocates greater integration into the world community that is aimed at enhancing the prosperity and security of Taiwan.
With a broadening array of policy positions the DPP continues its efforts to represent the will and improve the welfare of the Taiwanese people.