Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DPP programs aim to involve youth in politics

DEMOCRACY:Two new initiatives — Youth Power and Youth Council — aim to get young people voting and discussing political issues, DPP officials said
By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday announced two youth-oriented programs aimed at encouraging the young to participate in politics, which it says is crucial to deepening Taiwan’s democracy and reforming the party.

The first program, Youth Power, encourages people aged 23 to 40 to participate in the November elections for township councilors and borough and village wardens.

The second program, the Youth Council, aims to bring young people together to discuss a wide range of political issues and include those opinions in the DPP’s policymaking process.

“The key to launching these programs is to raise public awareness, in particular after the Sunflower movement, that Taiwan’s democracy should be deepened and to see whether the DPP could work with society once again,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told a press conference yesterday.

Noting that Taiwan’s 38 years of Martial Law ended on the same day 27 years ago — July 15, 1987 — Tsai said that Taiwan’s democratization was a product of the dedication and struggle of many young and fearless politicians who are now senior DPP members.

That is why the DPP has to “reinvest” the resources that society has given the party back to the young people, she said.

Tsai added that political participation does not necessarily mean running in elections, because all forms of activities that improve people’s livelihood and civil society are just as important.

The DPP will provide candidates who pass the preliminary screening with a subsidy of NT$30,000 (US$993) as well as consultation and training in campaign strategy and agenda-setting, the DPP’s Democracy Institute deputy director Wu Pei-yi (吳沛憶) said.

In return, the candidates have to pledge that they will not buy votes and, if elected, work to ensure transparency in all their community works and promote grassroots democracy, Ho said.

The party did not set a goal on how many young candidates it would train and sponsor.

The Youth Council will serve as a longstanding platform for the DPP to exchange ideas with young people, DPP Department of Youth Development director Fu Wei-che (傅偉哲) said.

The first meeting of the council is scheduled to be held in Greater Taichung on July 26, with follow-up meetings in Greater Kaohsiung, Taoyuan County and New Taipei City, among other places, taking place every other Saturday.

Fu said the DPP plans to gather public opinions online before every meeting and present the conclusions and recommendations to the party’s Central Standing Committee — its highest decisionmaking body — for reference and further discussion.

“We are not trying to incorporate or neutralize young people’s voices with the platform. Quite the contrary, our aim is to highlight their voices and make young people the forefront of the DPP,” Fu said.

Fu and Ho, both student movement leaders, were among Tsai’s “prize recruits.” The party leader pledged a youthful movement as part of her party reform when she assumed the two-year DPP chairmanship in May, about one month after the Sunflower movement.