Maintaining The Legitimacy Of The Movement

Maintaining The Legitimacy Of The Movement

It was always a challenge for the Sunflower Movement to maintain its legitimacy in the eyes of the public

It was always a challenge for the movement to maintain its legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Namely, while the movement was seen largely seen as a pure movement of idealistic Taiwanese students, there was always the risk that something would lead to society turning against the movement. This seems largely to be why the central leadership of the movement attempted to preserve a clean image for the movement as whole, with society possibly shifting to the view that students were just protesting for the sake of protesting, or just in it for kicks.

For example, the attempted occupation of the Executive Yuan on 324 was something which risked threatening the legitimacy of the movement because the attempted Executive Yuan occupation and the destruction of government property which occurred to it threatened the image of the movement as a whole. The central leadership of the Legislative Yuan occupation, which was in confusion about who was behind the Executive Yuan occupation and even at some point suspected that it may have been an attempt to discredit the movement, may have gotten off lucky by not acknowledging ties between their occupation and the attempted Executive Yuan occupation immediately.

Photo credit: tomscy2000/Flickr/CC

Likewise, the possibility of weapons or drugs being found in the occupation site could lead to scandal which would similarly be discrediting of the movement as a whole and its demands. Apart from unconfirmed rumors of drug use on-site, weapons were found within the Legislative Yuan by the Legislative Yuan’s security team, with some suspecting that this was an attempt at sabotage. For that reason, it was also highly feared that organized crime might try to sneak into the Legislative Yuan and cause disruptive actions which would be discrediting of the movement, either unintentionally despite wanting to support the movement, or as deliberate sabotage.

It was probably for these fears that there was such emphasis on non-violence during the movement and emphasis was placed on the movement’s largest demonstration, on 330, for demonstrators to all withdraw in a timely manner before any incidents could possibly occur.


Demonstrators attempting to force their way into the Executive Yuan on 324. Photo credit: tomscy2000/Flickr/CC