“Recall of Revenge” Spark Debate in Taiwan: How Much Democracy Is?

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TAIPEI — Taiwanese heavy metal band frontman Freddy Lim turned his head when he turned his head. Won his first term as a member of parliament In 2016, we informed some of the island’s democratic youth that a new political era was about to begin. Now the 45-year-old is facing a recall.

He has many companies. Lim is the fifth elected politician in Taiwan who has faced recall challenges over the past year. If he is voted on Sunday, he will be yet another victim of what some Taiwanese describe as a new trend in “revenge recalls.”

A series of recalls, coupled with an attachment to a popular referendum accusing critics of wasting political resources, is for Taiwan (widely regarded as a democratic breakwater against China) for its own benefit. Is fueling a debate about whether it is too democratic.

Accelerating the change in law, one of the previous recalls was successfully banished China-friendly politician As the mayor of Kaohsiung’s South Port City in June 2020. However, many of the recent targets were young politicians known for their hostility to China.

“Taiwan has undergone so many reforms and changes over the last few years that a new generation of politicians is the easiest target,” Lim said.

Freddy Lim gave a lecture at an event prior to the referendum in December last year.


Photo:

Walid Berrazeg / Zuma Press

Taiwan has long been known for its abundant political brand, when lawmakers sometimes abandon rhetoric and discuss defeating each other with fists or allowing US pork imports. Throw away the intestinal sack of rotten animals. But lately, constant political mobilization has created a detrimental situation in which “elections never end,” said Lin Jiahe, a professor of law at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan.

The ruling Democratic Party and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, also known as the National Party or the National Party, have been campaigning for several months prior to the December vote on issues such as the possibility of a US pork import ban, the relocation and reopening of liquefied natural gas terminals. Was done. Of a suspended nuclear power plant.poll I have attracted Votes from over 40% of voters.

“There are more pressing challenges for Taiwanese politicians to spend their time,” said Rev Nackman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University.

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In the December 2021 referendum, less than half of Taiwan’s voters voted.


Photo:

ANNABELLE CHIH / REUTERS

A series of recalls in Taiwan have led some political scientists to draw similarities to California. In California, as with last year, efforts have been made to dismiss the incumbent Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. Inspired discussion Whether there is too much direct democracy.

Mr Newsom eventually won the state-wide vote, but parts of Taiwan weren’t so lucky.

In October, former Taiwan independence supporter Chen Po-wei, who won an upset victory in the 2020 legislative election with more than 112,000 votes, was defeated in a recall vote of about 78,000 people. .. “We didn’t break the law or betray the country,” Chen said in an interview.

Political analysts say there is no evidence that Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of China and vows to force control of the island as needed, is directly manipulating the recall process. Nonetheless, analysts said China is in a position to benefit if Taiwan’s political gear is set, especially with the recall of independent lawmakers.

Kuomintang chairman Eric Chu emphasized its dynamics when he criticized Lim in October in protest of Chen’s recall.

“Don’t fight China every time you speak,” Chu said before predicting Lim’s own call election. “These types of parliamentarians and elected officials will definitely be banished.”

Nationalist spokesman Alfred Lin dismissed the idea that China was involved in the recall and instead said it “embodies the deepening democratic consciousness of the Taiwanese people.” Beijing’s Taiwan Secretariat did not respond to requests for comment.

China has frequently criticized Taiwan’s democracy. In December, Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Secretariat, accused Taiwan’s ruling party of seeking independence in the guise of democracy.

The importance of direct democracy in Taiwan’s politics, in a 1924 speech, described the recall and referendum, which were rare in Western countries at the time, “China is the most advanced country in the world.”

As tensions between China and Taiwan increase, WSJ’s Gerald F. Save considers a debate about whether it’s time for the United States to change its long-standing strategic ambiguity approach, which in defense of the island. I will openly declare that I will come.Photo Illustration: Nikki Walker

Mr. Sun’s Kuomintang withdrew to Taiwan in the late 1940s after his successor, Chiang Kai-shek, was defeated by Mao Zedong’s Communist Party in the civil war in China and brought about a constitution of the Republic of China, mainly based on Mr. Sun’s vision. ..

The recall has gained new importance in Taiwan following a 2014 student-led protest called the Sunflower Movement, which successfully closed an unpopular trade deal with China. After unsuccessful attempts to expel a few KMT lawmakers, proponents of the movement pushed to lower the recall threshold.

This effort was successful two years after President Tsai Ing-wen won the first election and the independence-oriented Democratic Progressive Party gained a majority in the legislature. Parliamentarians have approved an amendment to reduce the number of signatures required to proceed with the scallop from 13% to 10%. They also halved the threshold for approving votes in legitimate voting from 50% to 25% of registered voters in the district.

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Han Kuoyu, who saw Mike in front of him, was recalled in June 2020.


Photo:

Associated Press

Han Kuoyu, China-friendly mayor was banished in 2020Was the highest-ranking election civil servant recalled after the law was amended. Han’s supporters responded by supporting efforts to bring back Huang Jie, a 28-year-old city council member who was known to spar with Han during the meeting.

“They wanted to do the same to attack those they consider to be political enemies,” Huang, who survived the February recall, said Han’s supporters. “It’s basically a mobilization of hatred,” Huang said.

Ironically, Huang and Lim were one of the people who pushed to facilitate recalls.

“It has a boomerang effect.” Joshua Spivak, author of the book “Election Recall: From Alexander Hamilton to Gavin Newsom,” said:

Lim refused to comment on the wisdom of Taiwan’s recall rules, but said he wasn’t surprised at his efforts to recall, pointing out criticisms of his long hair and tattoos when he first took office. ..

“Since I started politics, I’ve had a full-blown attack on me as a rock band lead singer,” said Lim, a short-haired performer who has often mixed politics and music. Lim is the lead singer of the heavy metal band Chthonic.

At a concert in London in 2012, Mr. Lim said that Taiwanese athletes were required to participate in the Olympic Games under the banner of “Chinese Taipei” by the International Olympic Committee, which was enacted by Beijing’s claim. Aimed at the rules. The singer’s on-stage rant-he repeated the phrase “Chinese f-Taipei” many times-was recently featured in the Taiwanese segment at comedian John Oliver’s show “Last Week Tonight.” rice field.

img 61d85557dfdc0

Freddy Lim, the lead singer of the heavy metal band Chthonic, who will perform in Tokyo in 2019.


Photo:

Nicolas Datiche / Zuma Press

KMT city councilman Jung Xiaoping, who led the campaign to bring back Lim, cited vulgarity as one of the reasons Metalhead had to go.

“Taipei was before becoming a legislator just because it supported Taiwan independence, but it can’t’f’Taipei,” said Lim enough to be the center of his district. Mr Chung, who criticized him for not paying attention, said. Outbreak of local Covid-19 in May.

Lim said he hopes the series of recalls will end with him. However, analysts warned that this trend is likely to continue without changing the recall rules.

“It’s unlikely that anyone will stop the recall,” said Lin of National Chengchi University. “In Taiwan, opposition to recalls means opposition to democracy.”

Write in Joyu Wang at joyu.wang@wsj.com

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“Recall of Revenge” Spark Debate in Taiwan: How Much Democracy Is?

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