An accusation leveled against the Sunflower Movement, especially from members of the KMT and pan-Blue political camp, was that the Sunflower Movement was a “populist movement” engineered by members of the pan-Green camp. The accusation of “populism” is one with a long historical resonance for members of the pan-Blue camp, seeing members of the pan-Blue camp have in the past accused many Taiwanese social movements of being “populist” movements stirred to action by out of control emotional sentiments rather than reason, including the democracy movement against KMT authoritarianism.
Likewise, hand in hand with the accusation of “populism” often is the accusation that the DPP was secretly stirring up the public to demonstrate by stoking anger against the KMT. Again, for the KMT, which only relinquished power reluctantly during the process of Taiwanese democratization, this demonstrates continued undemocratic sentiments. Clearly, a ruling KMT government can do no wrong that the public would not be motivated to protest on its own. As the KMT fears internal splits between its “Mainlander” and “Taiwanese” factions, sometimes the accusation was made that traitorous elements of the KMT from the “Taiwanese faction” of the KMT led by Wang Jinpyng (王金平) were working together with elements of the DPP to undermine the KMT from within. Some accusations also exist that the CSSTA was simply used an justification to carry out a longstanding plan to occupy the Legislative Yuan among Taiwanese youth activists.
Certainly, it is true that the DPP did sometimes lend its support to participants in the Sunflower Movement, whether this was in terms of material support, statements of support from DPP legislators, rallying supporters or some cases in which legislators pleaded to police to take a light hand with students or even used themselves as human shields. DPP heavyweights such as Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文), then-chair Su Tseng-Chang (蘇貞昌), Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Yu Shyi-Kun (游錫堃) directly interceded with police at times, or blocked police with their bodies. DPP legislators also maintained guarding the entrance in and out of the Legislative Yuan encampment, helped move supplies into the Legislative Yuan, interceded with police to prevent them from blocking this entrance or clearing out occupiers, maintaining long hours in the Legislative Yuan and organizing shifts to do so. The legislators that did this did so with the aid of few other DPP legislators.
The DPP’s department of social movements also maintained a liaison with the police and DPP members mobilized to bus in over one hundred buses, with several thousand participants to mobilize in support of the movement. Some of the key participants in the movement were also children of high-ranking or historically important members of the DPP or the Taiwanese independence movement, as in, for example, movement participant Wang Yunxiang (王雲祥) being the son of the director Lee Teng-Hui’s office, Wang Yan-Chun (王燕軍). Nevertheless, the fact that the movement was not engineered by the DPP is self-evident in the fact that youth activists were also frequently critical of DPP attempts to co-opt the movement and sometimes saw the DPP as having proved equally corrupt as the KMT during the eight years of the Chen Shui-Bian (陳水扁) presidency, particularly when it came to the actions of local DPP politicians happy to cooperate with development companies or even organized crime to carry out forced urban evictions.
Moreover, following the Sunflower Movement, the KMT found itself facing a particular crisis seeing as the movement demonstrated it had firmly lost Taiwan’s youth. Attempts to pin the blame for this problem on the DPP having manipulated Taiwan’s young seem improbable, seeing as decline in pan-Blue support among Taiwanese young people is not tied to political support for the DPP or KMT, specifically, but changes in Taiwanese identity.
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