Taiwan’s true Greens

logo of the Taiwan Green Party

Taiwan Green Party logo

I often feel somewhat vexed by the fact that the DPP has used the color green to represent itself and that Taiwan-centric political parties in Taiwan are referred to as the Pan-Green Coalition. While there may be no doubt about what these parties stand for in Taiwan, they in fact share little in common with international Green politics.

Green parties are usually associated with the environment movement. Actually they usually have broader based policies based on the four pillars of the Greens. These are ecology, social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence.

While the DPP stood for many of these ideals when it was initially founded, since coming to power it has proven to be a party that serves the interests of big business and has little regard for environmental issues.

I was glad to read in the Taipei Times today that the Taiwan Green Party has announced some of its candidates for the January 2008 elections for the Legislative Yuan. The Taipei Times reports that Green Party Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲)

…added that the party wants to push for government funding for minority representatives and for limits on campaign spending so that "the Legislative Yuan isn't dominated by well-connected and well-funded people."

[..]

Pan said the GPT has three priorities: "To change the structure of Taiwan's economy and promote a low-carbon economy, to vote against the construction of the Suhua Freeway and to build a second forest park instead of a second dome complex on the site of the old Songshan Tobacco Factory."

While Taiwanese politics is dominated by the blue-green divide a lot of important issues don't attract the level of public debate and attention they deserve. In particular, climate change barely rates a blip on the political radar even though it is a crucial issue that will change the world enormously in the next few decades. 

While the Green Party faces an uphill battle to get representation in Taiwan's parliament it at least creates a genuine political alternative. I hope that future electoral and constitutional reforms ensure that the Greens and other minor parties can become a fixture in Taiwan's political landscape and allow a broader range of political issues to be debated. 

5 thoughts on “Taiwan’s true Greens

  1. I too am a Green in my home country, David, however the political stakes are a bit skewed here in Taiwan. Here, the overriding issue is Taiwanese independence/unification–and to some extent it determines and blocks out all other considerations. I strongly support environmental, labor, and health issues, but I’m not going to pretend that these are important above and beyond the issue of whether Taiwan is forced to unify with China or become a (recognized) independent nation.

    Let me explain what I mean by way of analogy. In the US, the war is the ultimate issue that (perhaps unfairly) has the country by the balls. So, Ralph Nader, the Green candidate, has said that if a conservative democrat who will not get us out of the war receives the nomination he will run against her. However, if someone like Edwards wins the nomination I strongly doubt Nader would run against him. In fact, he’ll probably endorse his campaign.

    Point is, I see no problem with supporting two parties at once. Also, Frank Hsieh is famous for cleaning up polluted Kaohsiung as mayor, but the most important thing is that he’s opposed to unification and can be swayed to listen to Green issues more easily than could Ma Ying-jeou (who . In short, I think it’s possible to support more than one party, and this case it has to be Green all the way to the core.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. As a green voter in Australia (well, before I took myself off the electoral rolls), I truly believe that a democracy is only healthy when it has minor parties capable of gaining seats and causing the odd upset come election time.

  3. Maybe the government’s thinking that if we screw Taiwan’s environment completely enough China won’t want it anymore.

  4. I also used to be a fairly active environmentalist. I went for five years using a bicycle as my primary mode of transportation. That ended after I moved here, since the traffic is a bit more intimidating than in Boulder, CO. or in Jiayi. Still, I’m a big fan of the MRT.

    The problem is, these sorts of actions taken as individuals don’t have much impact compared to choices made by industry. Similarly, while I was a supporter of the Kyoto protocol, it would have excluded the two most populous countries in the world. Ultimately, environmental problems are thorny, and true greens have a rough path ahead.

    Nostolgiaphile, I’m a little surprised you’re so behind Hsieh on the whole independence front considering his record in Gaoxiong. He greatly angered the DPP by attempting to reach out to the mayor of Xiamen and forge between “the two great Chinese cities”. Hsieh has also reacted to Hu’s peace offer (that carries a 1-China assumption) with much more interest than Ma has.

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