Taiwan’s ‘Third Force’ NPP and SDP vow to break old politics

Yesterday was the first day of candidacy registration for the nine-in-one elections at the end of this year, both New Power Party (時代力量) and Social Democratic Party (社會民主黨) had their "opening ceremony" to initiate the campaign.

By Nora Chang

Taipei, Aug. 28 – Yesterday was the first day of the five-day candidacy registration for the nine-in-one elections at the end of this year on Nov. 24. New Power Party (NPP, 時代力量) and Social Democratic Party (SDP, 社會民主黨) had their own “opening ceremony” to initiate the campaign, and both parties’ leaders brought their candidates to register at Central Election Commission (ECE,中選會).

The two parties are part of the political phenomenon known as the “Third Force” (第三勢力), in which new political parties, unaligned with traditional Pan-Green or Pan-Blue Coalitions, sought to provide an alternative in Taiwanese politics.

Hoping to break through from the “pan-blue and pan-green” dominance, the two parties both want to create a new political scenario with transparency, honesty and high efficiency for all nationals by bringing younger generations into the political force.

NPP pushed down the wall of “plutocracy” that KMT and DPP have long created.

NPP chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) led his team of six candidates yesterday, piled a fake wall made of cartons which symbolizes stale political patterns in Taiwan that most of the seats of public officials were occupied by DPP (民進黨) and KMT (國民黨) and also the fact that administration and policies were often affected or controlled by megacorporations. They then pushed down the wall as a demonstration of their determination to overturn the situation.

SDP chairman Fan Yun (范雲) did the same, she and her five candidates broke the ice which was made into a dollar sign, half blue and half green, represented the plutocracy created by the two old parties.

Nevertheless, as small and rather new parties without abundant resources and funds like DPP and KMT, how are the two new comers going to change the status quo and what are their concrete plans for the campaign since they are competing for votes that do not go to either pan-blue or pan-green?

During an interview with NPP spokesman Lee Chao-li (李兆立), he told the China Post that the party will go on to supervise the government like they always did in the past. They will not take any political contributions or put on large campaign banners all over the cities. Yet, in order for citizens to know more about the party, they will do street canvassing but won’t distribute flags or drive the propaganda cars around for the annoyances it often creates in the past.

Also, being asked what are the differences between NPP and SDP since their stances are quite similar, Lee answered that he did not research into SDP’s platforms, but NPP itself will focus on labor rights, LGBT marriage, and stricter supervision on the government.

“We understand that it takes time to reach our political goals due to the feasibilities. We will do our best to strike a balance between the two.” Lee said.

As for SDP, Miao Po-ya (苗博雅), Daan and Wenshan District Taipei city councilor candidate, responded that to attract votes, she will not take political contributions either to distinct herself from DPP and KMT. “We hope to end the hereditary system and provide a better choice to voters who are disappointed with DPP and KMT. Our platforms focus on labor rights, child care, abuse of power, Taiwan’s sovereignty, and LGBT marriage and we will carry them out through rational supervision.” Miao said.

The struggles of the two Third Force political parties have been clear, given that they have less resources than the KMT or DPP, have lesser known candidates, and try to build something from zero. Furthermore, they also resist to adopt traditional electoral strategies resembling those of KMT and DPP, which put them into an even harder situation.

Could both NPP and SDP shake up old politics in the nationwide local elections of 2018, change the political landscape, and survive themselves? 

No matter what the results are, if there is going to be a long-term effect, it would be the experience of democracy in Taiwan.