2016 Electoral Successes A Result Of The Sunflower Movement?

2016 Electoral Successes A Result Of The Sunflower Movement?

The successes of Tsai Ing-Wen, the DPP, and NPP in 2016 presidential and legislative elections may be in part due to the Sunflower Movement

Can we credit the electoral successes of Tsai Ing-Wen, the DPP, and New Power Party in 2016 presidential and legislative elections to the Sunflower Movement? It is hard to say. This would be the first time in Taiwanese history that a non-KMT political party controlled the Legislative Yuan, as well as the first time that the DPP controlled both the presidency and the legislature. Many political districts historically controlled by the KMT voted pan-Green in 2016 elections, suggesting that election results were influenced by trends in Taiwanese identity. We shall see if this holds, seeing as political districts which shift from pan-Blue to pan-Green tend to stay that way.

As importantly preceded by the successful election bid of Taipei mayor Ko Wen-Je, who ran a campaign with the support of Taiwanese youth activists, Tsai Ing-Wen also ran a campaign which made heavy outreach to young people. Tsai also sought to construct for herself an image of having embraced youth issues and brought a number of young people who were involved in the Sunflower Movement into her campaign. In this way, perhaps, can we see the significance of the Sunflower Movement in its impact on political discourse.

Photo credit: Freddy Lim/Facebook

More directly, Third Force parties which emerged after the Sunflower Movement, including the New Power Party, the Social Democratic Party-Green Party alliance, and the Free Taiwan Party, fielded candidates in 2016 legislative elections as marking the entrance of youth activists into electoral politics. The New Power Party and Social Democratic Party both originally emerged from a split in the Taiwan Citizens’ Union formed after the Sunflower Movement under the auspices of Lin Yi-Hsiung and leading members of NGOs such as the Judicial Reform Foundation and Taiwan Rural Front. 

While only the New Power Party was successful in getting candidates into office, candidates of the New Power Party included Huang Kuo-Chang, Freddy Lim, Hung Tzu-Yung, sister of Hung Chung-Hsiu, activist lawyer Handy Chiu, Neil Peng, and Kawlo Iyun. Social Democratic Party candidates included longtime LGBTQ activist Jennifer Lu, Miao Poya, and was led by Fan Yun, one of the leading figures of the Wild Lily Movement. The Free Taiwan Party grew out of the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan and was led by Tsay Ting-Kuei, although he did not run as a candidate himself.

In this way, the Sunflower Movement’s effects can be seen in altering the political landscape of Taiwanese electoral politics. Whether these prove permanent changes still remain to be seen, however.


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Photo credit: Tsai Ing-Wen/Facebook