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Direct democracy calls betray pandering to populist rhetoric

The student-led protest, which has been occupying the Legislative Yuan's main chamber for almost three weeks, has made little progress so far in its drive to stop the government-sponsored Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement. Despite the government's recent approval of the “Statute for the Processing and Monitoring of Agreements between the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area” — one of the protesters' four demands — the student leaders have demonstrated with flair that they are just as susceptible to populist nonsense as anyone else. After all, why worry about facts when you know that you can generate a bunch of flag-waving faux patriotism with extremist rhetoric? Here are a few examples:

The students-turned-protesters proposed on Friday the implementation of “direct democracy” to review the draft legislation regarding a Taiwan-China agreement-monitoring mechanism, openly showing their lack of understanding about the functioning of a modern democracy. For sure, some of them might believe that direct democracy could help reduce suspicions about legislation regarding mainland China as well as place national and local issues directly in the hands of the people. Regretfully, this concept highlights the protesters' ongoing fantasy regarding contemporary politics and the future of their political movement that has now entered a dead-end.

Strangely enough, students should know that direct democracy won't really help to close the divide between Taiwan's ruling and opposition parties, whose actions are dictated by a “winner takes all” mentality. In a direct democracy, the welfare and economic development of the whole country would be further sidelined for the needs of political factions that will effectively control the (social) media. Inevitably, rule “of the people” will come short of rule “for the people” because decisions won't represent the opinions of a majority of voters who have other things to do than vote on whatever legislation three times a week.

April 7, 2014    bb44@
I agree: the students' "direct democracy" is BS. But so is the president's version of autocratic democracy. Taiwan has to find a midway here, no?
April 7, 2014    excuseme@
"Regretfully, this concept ('direct democracy') highlights the protesters' ongoing fantasy regarding contemporary politics"

Excuse me, can you please check the system one of the most successful democracies in the world - Switzerland - is using?
April 8, 2014    cia-yes@
Our democracy is gang-[...]. Even the Western countries with advanced democracy will not tolerate this anarchy.
April 9, 2014    Thinkdilly@
The author of this article is short sighted in what direct democracy is
If the entire country set up an online registry and by populous demand through voted initiatives decided that some law enacted was contrary to the public desire then the public could retract a law or politician
Read about the Swiss direct democratic model and it works very well
Direct democracy is now being discussed in Europe and with the ease of the internet something hours to be a reality in the future
April 9, 2014    edann77@
"Unfortunately, we all know that the low-information voter is always cultivated and even celebrated in Taiwan where divisive rhetoric always trumps facts."

lol... ... That's very frank. 'Low-information' people.

To those pointing to Switzerland as an example... stop being so ignorantly naive with a universal cookie-cutter approach to really different cultures, education, information, and social-economic progress.
April 9, 2014    carltabunong@
Go Chen Wei-ting GO GO GO!!!
April 10, 2014    excuseme@
@edan77: Read the CP article carefully?

"showing their lack of understanding about the functioning of a modern democracy"

Modern democracy was not defined here, so: any modern democracy.

"..this concept highlights the protesters' ongoing fantasy regarding contemporary politics"

No "Taiwan" politics or even "Asian" politics referred to here.

May I suggest you to read the original article more closely and non-ignorantly before trying to act judgmental?
April 13, 2014    alhsieh101@
edan77, I beg to differ on your 'universal' remark.

Hyper-connected and active segments of the population, like students, can and should indeed play a role in society. This can happen in a form of direct democracy that at times forces indirect representative democracy to reform and deepen itself. Your "really different" argument sounds hollow: democracy has no cultural, educational or socio-economic color. When efforts to engage in direct democracy occurs in the context of Taiwan's unfinished democratization, as well as under influence of an irredentist China, Taiwan's hard-earned freedom can only be enhanced.

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