Mon, Jan 14, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Election fallout: Green Party stays upbeat despite poor performance

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislative election resulted in none of the smaller parties winning a legislator-at-large seat, which could be harmful to Taiwan's environmental awareness, members of the Green Party Taiwan (GPT) said.

The party received a mere 0.6 percent of votes.

"Taiwan's political polarization between the two main parties squeezes out smaller parties," said former policy advisor to the president Peter Ng (黃文雄), who has been an avid supporter of the GPT since it was founded.

However, environmentalists and political analysts said that although amid the political mud slinging important topics like environmental protection are largely neglected, there are signs that these issues are receiving increasing public attention.

One reason for the GPT's disappointing performance was its relatively recent formation, analysts said.

metropolitan

"The GPT is a `metropolitan party' -- while its ideology is impressive, it is only supported by people in cities," Academia Sinica political scientist Lin Jih-wen (林繼文) said.

Liao Da-chi (廖達琪), a National Sun Yat-sen University political science professor, said that, "the GPT appeals mostly to young people; however that group may have low levels of voter participation."

But despite the current situation environmentalists did not think the outlook for GPT and other "small parties with a mission and passion" was bleak.

GPT secretary-general Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said the fact that many people asked for the party's campaign flyers showed that fighting climate change and saving the environment were receiving increasing attention.

starting small

"While it is true that the GPT is a `city party,' one must bear in mind that all alternative parties -- including the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) -- started in cities with small groups of supporters," Ng said.

Ng said that while he was not worried by the GPT's fate, since parties took time to mature and be accepted, it was worrying that the KMT had won by such a big margin.

System reform may be necessary to remove institutional barriers for small parties to enter the legislature and widen the nation's narrow political spectrum, he said.

"The 5 percent benchmark is high for starting parties; the 60,000 people who voted for the GPT had their votes unfairly represented, unlike, say, Aboriginal voters or those in smaller counties like Kinmen, which has fewer than 30,000 voters," he said.

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