The nation’s political parties have released their legislator-at-large lists for the Jan. 13 elections, with the names topping the lists showing the differences in their focus and values.
The 113-seat Legislative Yuan consists of 73 seats elected from single-member legislative constituencies, six for indigenous candidates and 34 at-large seats, which are distributed among parties that meet the minimum threshold of 5 percent of all party votes cast.
Each party is entitled to submit a ranked list of 34 nominees for at-large seats.
The Democratic Progress Party (DPP) has nominated 16 men and 18 women, with Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation chief executive officer Lin Yue-chin (林月琴) topping the list, followed by National Taipei University’s Graduate School of Criminology director Puma Shen (沈伯洋), who is dedicated to combating disinformation, and Taiwan Parks and Playgrounds for Children by Children chairwoman Ariel Chang (張雅琳).
The DPP hopes to gain support from civil groups and swing voters with its emphasis on social welfare issues, such as child protection and youth rights.
The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) list has former Kaohsiung mayor and its 2020 presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) at No. 1, followed by former legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩), who represented the party in last year’s Kaohsiung mayoral election, but lost.
Han, who has previously served as a lawmaker, was the first municipal mayor in Taiwan to be recalled from office after he launched a presidential bid shortly after being elected in Kaohsiung. Putting him atop the list demonstrates the KMT’s desire to appeal to China-leaning deep-blue voters.
Han has been criticized for his performance as a lawmaker, with critics saying his participation was sparse and attendance rate low. However, the KMT not only wants him to return to the role, but possibly have him elected as legislative speaker, as it typically puts forward its top legislator-at-large pick for the role.
The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) put former Taipei deputy mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) atop its list, followed by former New Power Party (NPP) legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) and surrogacy advocate Chen Chao-tzu (陳昭姿), who was once a core cadre of the pro-independence Taiwan Action Party Alliance.
The TPP’s choices indicate that it aims to snatch votes that might otherwise go to minor parties, regardless of voter ideology. It also shows that the TPP and its chairman and presidential candidate, former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), place cronyism over talent.
Some people have withdrawn from the party to protest Vivian Huang, Ko’s election campaign director, being the top pick and the TPP favoring people who have come from other parties rather than long-time members.
The legislator-at-large system should push parties to nominate people who would focus more on non-political agendas and social needs that might otherwise fall through the cracks of constituency elections. It is a pity that some parties value political power over public welfare.
Voters should make wise choices to assure that those who gain at-large seats are of benefit to society.
Moreover, smaller parties, such as the Green Party, the Taiwan Statebuilding Party and the NPP, which are the voice of underrepresented demographics, face a tremendous challenge to reach the 5 percent threshold.
Taiwanese should be aware that the system leans toward outcomes that might have a negative effect on the nation’s democracy.
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