Taiwan’s opposition rallies against DPP

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William Lai Ching-te

19th May 2024 – (Taipei) On the eve of Taiwan’s presidential inauguration, Taipei witnessed a substantial rally as hundreds of opposition supporters gathered outside the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters to express their dissent against another term under the DPP’s governance. The rally unfolded on Sunday, 19th May, signaling a tense atmosphere as Taiwan prepares to welcome president-elect Lai Ching-te into office.

As Taiwan stands on the precipice of new leadership, it confronts escalating diplomatic and military pressures from China, which continues to assert its claim over the self-governed island. The incoming administration of William Lai Ching-te, however, will also face the challenge of navigating a fractious parliament. This follows a significant shift in the January elections where the DPP lost its majority in the Legislative Yuan, setting the stage for a complex political landscape.

The Kuomintang (KMT), historically perceived as more amenable to relations with China, narrowly edged out the DPP by securing one additional seat. Meanwhile, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), a newer political entity, emerged as a potential kingmaker with eight seats, illustrating a fragmented voter base increasingly disillusioned with the traditional parties.

At the heart of the protests, TPP supporters brandished guavas—a fruit colloquially synonymous with “empty promises” in Chinese—to symbolize their dissatisfaction with what they consider the unfulfilled promises of the DPP. TPP leader Ko Wen-je vocally criticized the ruling party, accusing it of arrogance and deceit. “The DPP’s empty promises have shown us their arrogance,” Ko declared to the crowd, underscoring a widespread sentiment of disillusionment among the electorate.

The sentiment was echoed by protesters like Samuel Chuang, a 35-year-old engineer, who expressed disenchantment with the DPP’s performance despite having supported them in previous elections. “But after eight years, when we see what has actually been done, we feel like there hasn’t been much change,” Chuang stated, reflecting a broader sense of betrayal among younger voters.

This rally comes against a backdrop of recent legislative brawls, with DPP lawmakers attempting to thwart opposition-led reforms aimed at enhancing legislative scrutiny over government actions. These proposed reforms, and the subsequent violence in the parliament, have only added to the political unrest, prompting rallies and counter-protests across the political spectrum.