In the last blog I wrote about the canton of Zurich, Switzerland. We showed how the people of Zurich have the power to decide on so many issues. Today we travel 9 000 km Eastbound from Zurich.
“Made in China” direct democracy? I am serious. The people of Taiwan have decided; “Confucius can be a direct democrat too!”
We know some “dismiss” Switzerland’s direct democracy. They say things like “they are very different”, “they are a small country”, blah, blah. What will they say when you tell them: how about Taiwan’s direct democracy?
If the people of Taiwan, who differ greatly from the Swiss, can decide directly on many things via referendums, why can’t you?
For example, in 2018 the people of Taiwan decided by referendum the following questions:
- Do you agree “To reduce by 1% year by year” the electricity production of thermal power plants?”
- Do you agree to the establishment of an energy policy to “Stop construction and expansion of any coal-fired thermal power plants or generator units?
- Do you agree that the government should maintain the prohibition of agricultural imports and food from areas affected by the Fukushima March 11, disaster?
- Specifically, those from Fukushima proper and the 4 surrounding districts and cities of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, and Chiba?
- Do you agree that marriage defined in the Civil Code should be restricted to the union between one man and one woman?
- Do you agree that the Ministry of Education should not implement the Enforcement Rules of the Gender Equality Education Act in elementary and middle schools?
- Do you agree to the protection of the rights of same-sex couples in co-habitation on a permanent basis in ways other than changing of the Civil Code?
- Do you agree to the use of “Taiwan” (instead of Republic of China) when participating in all international sport competitions, including the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
- Do you agree to the protection of same-sex marital rights with marriage as defined in the Civil Code?
- Do you agree in accordance with the Gender Equality Education Act that national education of all levels should educate students on the importance of gender equality, emotional education, sex education, and same-sex education?
- Do you agree to repeal Article 95 Paragraph 1 of the Electricity Act: “Should Nuclear-energy-based power generating facilities shall stop running by 2025”?
Why can’t you and your fellow citizens? What is the matter?
Who knows? in a few years, the Taiwanese, or perhaps your country, may surpass Switzerland’s direct democracy.
The people of Taiwan are amazing. They decided to become a democracy in the early 1990s. Then in 2003 they pressed for direct democracy. In 23 years from dictatorship to direct democracy. They are the Usain Bolt of speedy political change, and without firing a shot.
They did it because they became tired of politicians passing unpopular laws and making unpopular decisions… and hoping voters would forget by the next election.
One day they said, enough! when the party in government went back on its word not to build more nuclear power stations.
Thousands of citizens demonstrated against the betrayal.
During one of the protests the demonstrators projected the word 全民公决！(Referendum!) on the wall of the presidential building.
The pressure forced the government to accept the power of the people to directly decide, not just to elect representatives.
The Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name) states: “the people shall have the right of election, recall, initiative and referendum and that the exercise of the rights of initiative and referendum shall be prescribed by law”.
So, perhaps your country also has provisions for direct democracy in its constitution, or in its oral or written traditions. But even if it does not, the people of Taiwan have shown you how you it can be done.
There is lots of information in the Web about the events that triggered Taiwan’s change.
In some ways, Taiwan is a more relevant role model for most of the people of the World than Switzerland. The reason is obvious, few are close to Switzerland’s tradition of democracy.
Taiwan shows that any country can become a direct democracy, IF it has the will AND the skills to make it work.
What will be the “enough!” factor in your country, city, town, village or region, to push for direct democracy?
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