Why the DPP's January protest is 'not normal'
The China Post news staffThe Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) organized a major rally in Greater Tainan yesterday, as part of mobilization for its much-touted street protest against President Ma Ying-jeou on Jan. 13.
January 7, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Last week, Premier Sean Chen met outcry when he said the opposition party's January protest is “not a normal phenomenon of democracy,” but he is at least partly right.
As Chen's critics say, street protests are and ought to be a normal part of a peaceful democratic society. In authoritarian regimes, the state regularly meets violent outbreaks with violence of its own. In Taiwan and other capitalist democracies, a preferred solution to public violence is to provide a safe outlet for marginalized political sentiments.
What's not normal about the January protest is that it's explicitly and fully sponsored by a major political party.
Street movements are inherently political, but movement alliances with political parties are rare. The reason is mostly because the alliances don't work. If a movement is explicitly tied to a political party, the movement's power is blunted: It can never turn radical enough to seriously threaten the state, because the political party is a formal organ of the state.
In recent history, movements have lasted and scored gains when they were ostensibly nonpartisan or even anti-partisan, according to Diarmuid Maguire's recent study of British and Italian peace movements, as well as Donatella della Porta and Dieter Rucht's comparison of European left-libertarian movements.