Led by the lead singer of the metal band Chthonic, Freddy Lim (林昶佐), and lawyer Lin Feng-jeng (林峯正), a group of prominent activists yesterday vowed to bring a breath of fresh air to next year’s legislative elections with the founding of a new political organization — the New Power Party (NPP, 時代力量黨).
Members of the nascent party were undeterred by a recent split in its main founding organization — the Taiwan Citizen’s Union (TCU) — with TCU president Fan Yun (范雲) expected to launch a separate activism-based party in March.
Although both groups founded by TCU members promised to present an alternative to the major political camps, their members reportedly developed irreconcilable differences about inviting public participation.
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
With outspoken supporters of Taiwanese independence, such as Lim, and veteran social activists in its ranks, the NPP is likely to compete for voters who lean toward the pan-green camp headed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
According to an NPP statement, the party’s platform includes the advocacy of a “normalized” national status for Taiwan, promotion of tax reform and improved social security measures, as well as reform to the much maligned Referendum Act (公民投票法).
At the NPP’s inaugural news conference yesterday, party founders outlined their goal of bringing “transparency and openness” to politics through an Internet-based voting platform that would allow the public to nominate its legislative candidates.
By registering on the party’s Web site, NPP supporters would be eligible to nominate any candidate for a preliminary list that would later be voted on by party members, Lim said.
Registered supporters can become party members by paying a NT$600 annual membership fee, he added.
Lim said the party is confident that it will attract at least 100,000 registered supporters before the end of March, adding that the vote to finalize the party’s legislator-at-large list would be held from May 30 to June 1.
He brushed off questions about how the party would react if it fails to reach its proclaimed goal, saying that the group was more worried that its computer servers might be unable to handle the “overwhelming” surge of support.
NPP founders said that they aimed to represent the interests of residents “from all walks of life,” with their novel Internet voting system marking a break from traditional politics.
While Lim is equally famous for his musical career and his political activities, Lin is the former executive director of the Judicial Reform Foundation and a well-known human rights activist.
“In an age of technology, we should use new technological means to solve traditional problems,” Lin said. “The true aim is to lower the threshold and costs for public participation.”
Lim and Lin sidestepped questions from reporters about the TCU’s split and declined to elaborate on differences between the NPP and the party’s fellow activists.
TCU member Urda Yen (嚴婉玲), who is expected to join the other expected activist party to be headed by Fan, said the groups had similar ideals and that she welcomed the increased presence of “third-party” alternatives.
She added that the groups were divided over methods of public participation, with Fan’s group reluctant about the NPP’s nomination mechanism, as it might “leave little room for cooperation with other [social reform] groups.”
“We think it is more important for the public to have a say in policies,” Yen said.
Earlier in the day, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that allowing room for smaller political parties to flourish would be “beneficial to Taiwan’s political culture,” adding that the DPP would seek cooperation with minor parties, including potential competitors.
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