DPP encourages youth participation in politics
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-15 05:45 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Democratic Progressive Party unveiled two programs Tuesday to encourage more youth participation in politics.

The new plans come as the main opposition party is preparing to hold a congress this coming weekend where it will renew its leadership bodies after electing Tsai Ing-wen as its chairperson last May.

The “Grass Shoots of Democracy” project was designed to encourage more young people to stand for office in the November 29 local and regional elections, party officials said. If they were candidates for neighborhood wardens or for village mayors and councilors, they would be able to renovate politics from the bottom up, the DPP said.

The “Youth Assembly” program was destined to persuade young people to come out and discuss topics of public interest and policies, with the DPP acting as a conversation partner.

Both projects were designed to open the doors of the opposition party and increase interaction with young people, Tsai told the news conference presenting the plans Tuesday morning. She reminded her audience that when she was running for chairperson earlier this year, she had promised she would make the DPP “walk into society” and allow society to come into closer contact with the opposition party.

Her campaign developed in the wake of the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by student activists in protest against the government’s campaign to pass the trade-in-services pact with China without a promised thorough review. The action, which lasted from March 18 to April 20, invited criticism that the DPP was being marginalized because it stood too far removed from the new social movements.

Tsai emphasized that the two programs would work in two directions, with young people being allowed to contribute to the party while the DPP would help young candidates get elected.

The “Grass Shoots” program involved the selection of candidates younger than 40 by a group of ten prominent figures including author and columnist Ping Lu. The winners of the selection process would receive NT$30,000 (US$999) in election campaign funds each as well as key advice on how to run a campaign, present policies and manage a website, Tsai said. They could either run as independents or as DPP candidates, but would in any event have to sign a document promising no vote-buying, no corruption and the presentation of a correct account of their campaign spending.

The smaller Taiwan Solidarity Union had a similar program, with NT$1 million (US$33,000) for 20 young neighborhood warden candidates each who would not have to join the party to be eligible, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported Tuesday.

The DPP and the ruling Kuomintang both appeared on Line, the Japanese application for instant messaging, on Tuesday. KMT Vice Chairman Tseng Yung-chuan emphasized the importance of the medium, which he said had 17 million users in Taiwan, in attracting a younger public.

The new moves to attract more young voters came ahead of a DPP congress scheduled for July 20. A total of 500 congress delegates will choose 30 members for the Central Executive Committee, which will select ten of its own members to serve on the Central Standing Committee.

Apart from the elections for top leadership bodies, the fate of the party’s Taiwan Independence Clause will also be scrutinized by the media. Some members have advocated dropping it or at least “freezing” it, which might invite a positive reaction from China. Others say the clause is a basic part of the party’s ideology and history, and should not be tinkered with to please Beijing.

Because the committee elections will take up a lot of attention, the issue of the clause might just be put aside and referred to CEC meetings, the United Evening News reported.

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