Taiwan has become one of the most vibrant hotspots of Direct Democracy worldwide. This young asian democracy features a bottom-up initiative allowing for a broad range of issues to be voted upon. On December 18 voters in Taiwan were called to decide about 4 new proposals.  

On this occassion the first Navigator Talk about Direct Democracy took place. "The 2021 Taiwan Referendums - Results and Analyses" was hosted and moderated by our own Eike-Christian Hornig. We wanted to talk about the referendum experience in Taiwan and what it means for democracy and politics today. Eike-Christian Hornig welcomed two distinguished guests who agreed to share their insights on the referendum in Taiwan politics.

Prof. Ming-sho Ho is Professor of Sociology at National Taiwan University and  Director of the Research Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan. His research interests include social movements, labor and environmental issues among many other things. He recently published an intriguing article about the 2018 referendums in Taiwan called “The war of Referenda”. 

Dr. Zsusza Anna Ferency is a Political Scientist and an associate Researcher at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium and also a Lecturer at the National Dong Hwa University in Hualien. She has published about  Europe, China, and the Limits of Normative Power and she knows Taiwan from the insight and the outsight very well. Dr. Ferency also brings experience from practical politics as she worked for 12 years in the European Parliament. She is also based in Taipei.

In the discussion Prof. Ho and Dr. Ferenczy worked out the functioning of the referendum in Taiwan. We intensively talked about the role political parties play, the role of the media and the information situation prior to the votes and the importance of the role of Taiwan in the region. Both speakers also pointed out how the Taiwan case is typical for the problems of direct democracy. For example Prof. Ho pointed to the missing constitutional definition of voting issues. After a Q&A part with the moderator, the audience actively took part in the discussion by asking questions as well. 

Many thanks to Prof. Ho and Dr. Ferenczy for taking time and sharing their insights on the referendum in Taiwan from the entire Navigator team!