Voices of the 2020 Taiwan legislative elections: New Power Party

NPP seeks to prove it remains relevant in its pursuit of social justice after weathering rough year

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NPP announces proposals for 2020 legislative elections.

NPP announces proposals for 2020 legislative elections. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Originating in the Sunflower Movement, the New Power Party (NPP) is a young party striving to make positive changes in the country while trying to stand firm amid its inner turbulence.

The NPP has experienced both enormous gains and losses in the past four years — it took the party merely a year after its founding in 2015 to gain five seats in the Legislative Yuan, and 16 of its candidates were elected to local councils in 2018. However, the departure of three prominent members in 2019, including two legislators and one Taipei city councilor, dealt the party a major blow.

Compared to 2016, when the party was cooperating strategically with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to confront the Kuomintang (KMT) party, the NPP has chosen to raise its own flag in the upcoming legislative elections on Jan. 11.

"Relations between the NPP and DPP are both cooperative and competitive," Chien Chia-yo (簡嘉佑), deputy secretary-general of the NPP, told Taiwan News. "What the NPP has insisted on doing is playing our part as an opposition party to defend the best interests of society, no matter what relationships we have with other parties."

The NPP's legislators-at-large list indicates its pursuit of fairness and justice for the country. Besides experts with backgrounds in the environment, labor rights, and judicial transformation, what has really sparked discussion is Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), current legislator for New Taipei City's 12th District and a well-known figure that helped shape the party's public identity, who has decided to run as a legislator-at-large.

"Huang decided to join the election again because he knew his importance to the party even though the legislative combat and media attention have exhausted him," said Chien. "For sure, we wish he could bring more support to secure his seat, but we care more about highlighting other issues the NPP cares about by sending more candidates into the legislature with him.

Despite criticism over the party's separation from the DPP and inquiries about its current position in politics, Chien said the NPP is confident about the direction it is heading — it will firmly defend Taiwan's sovereignty, but it will never accept being considered a mere member of the "green" camp. Entering into a positive competition with its former partner is also on its agenda.

Even though emerging competitors like Ko Wen-je's (柯文哲) Taiwan People's Party are threatening the NPP's popularity, the party believes the changes it has brought to the Legislative Yuan are proof of its capabilities. "People might have voted for the NPP [the first time] for its freshness, but they will only vote for it again for what it has achieved," said Chien.