Hundreds protest Taiwan's ruling party on eve of inauguration

Agence France-Presse
Hundreds protest Taiwan's ruling party on eve of inauguration
Participants wait next to a placard with slogans calling for reforms before a protest organised by the Taiwan People's Party (TPP) against Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ahead of the inauguration ceremony of Taiwan's president-elect Lai Ching-te and vice-president-elect Hsiao Bi-khim, in Taipei on May 19, 2024.
AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Hundreds in Taipei rallied to protest four more years under a Democratic Progressive Party administration on Sunday, the eve of Taiwan's inauguration of president-elect Lai Ching-te.

Lai will take over governing Taiwan as it faces increasing diplomatic and military pressures from neighbouring China -- which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory.

But his administration will also have to work with a fractious parliament after voters in January ousted his party's majority.

Taiwan's biggest opposition group Kuomintang (KMT) -- a historic party regarded as friendlier to China -- received one more seat than the DPP, while the upstart Taiwan People's Party (TPP) gained the role as kingmaker with eight seats.

Outside the DPP's headquarters on Sunday, supporters of TPP held up guavas -- called "ba le" in Chinese, which is also used to describe a bad cheque -- to symbolise the empty promises of the DPP.

"A lot of young people voted for (Tsai) in 2016... But after eight years, when we see what has actually been done, we feel like there hasn't been much change," said engineer Samuel Chuang, 35.

"DPP betrayed us. It is not us that betrayed them."

Post-election, TPP emerged with nearly a quarter of the votes, appealing to Taiwanese by focusing on domestic issues like unemployment, soaring housing prices and electricity rates, and wage stagnation.

Its leader Ko Wen-je had also proposed his party as a "middle" path between DPP -- which staunchly defends Taiwan's sovereignty against China -- and KMT, regarded by younger Taiwanese to be overly cozy with Beijing.

The TPP rally comes two days after a physical brawl broke out in Taiwan's parliament, as DPP lawmakers tried to stop the opposition parties from proposing reform bills that would effectively expand the powers of the legislature.

Opposition groups say such reforms were needed to enable more scrutiny of the government, but the DPP said the bills were rushed through without a proper consultation process.

Hundreds of DPP supporters gathered outside the legislature on Friday evening to protest the bills and the violence, after local media reported that both DPP and KMT lawmakers suffered injuries from the fight.

Some rallygoers Sunday expressed dismay at the chaos in the legislature, but Ensen Wang, 32, appeared unfazed as he walked by where TPP supporters gathered.

"That happens with democracy," Wang said.

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