New voters will play critical role - Taipei Times
Sun, Oct 11, 2015 - Page 8 News List

New voters will play critical role

By Michael Hsiao 蕭新煌

They were idealists affronted by the merest suggestion of political corruption, or cynics all too quick to say that politics is a nasty business, and that both the KMT and the opposition are rotten to the core. The result was that previous rounds of first-time voters had a tendency to avoid political issues and chose not to vote, for what was the point? They rejected politics and did not trust the election process.

However, with last year’s Sunflower movement, Taiwanese politics entered a new era. This “new politics” is the young generation starting to care about the roots of democracy and about the nation’s future. They are no longer willing to let the KMT get away with its manipulation of power and the derision it has for the law, taking the country to the brink of a democratic crisis and damaging the nation’s dignity, nor are they willing to leave the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to fight the KMT alone.

Being more politically engaged, many young Taiwanese are actively entering politics. This is the new politics and it is also the kind of politics that young people want to have.

The Sunflower movement seeded the drubbing the KMT received in the Nov. 29 nine-in-one elections last year and the momentum created by the two events mobilized high-school students this summer to protest curriculum guideline changes the government wanted to introduce.

It is because of the advent of this new political era that in the presidential election the nation will see a continuation of the changed expectations and momentum brought about by the active participation of the young people who became eligible to vote in the nine-in-one elections.

The difference in this set of newly eligible voters is not due to their age, nor is it entirely because of the generation in which they have grown up in: Taiwan has entered a new era and the political character of this new group has changed accordingly. They will bring to the presidential election a new resolve to stand up to save their nation through active participation in the political process.

Michael Hsiao is director of Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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