Taichung, Taiwan, Oct 3 : The Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy on Thursday called upon the global citizens to learn more from each other’s direct democracy experiences and strengthen the system as it was the very heart of democracy.
The Forum has been jointly hosted by the Taichung City Government and the National Chung Hsing University with the support of the Democracy International and several other organisations. Mr Fuh-Sheng Shieu, president of the National Chung Hsing University (NCHU), inaugurated the first plenary of the Forum. “We can learn from each other to improve our respective democratic system,” he said.
Mr Huang-Sheng Wu, chairperson of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission of Taichung City, said the cities like Taichung have greater responsibility being the democracy cities. Mr Bruno Kaufmann, Forum co-chairperson, said Taiwan has set an example by institutionalising the participatory and direct democracy. He said the direct democracy is the very heart of democracy and it is an opportunity for the people to institutionalise and safeguard the system. “Direct democracy can make representative democracy more representative,” he added.
Mr Joe Mathews, co-chairperson of the Forum and Mr Yen-Tu Su, a professor, also addressed the first plenary. In the first plenary discussion on the Taiwan Referendum Act, professor Yen-Tu Su (Taiwan), (Ms Angelika Gardiner (Germany), Tian-Shuang Chang (Taiwan), William Yang (Deutsche Welle East Asia correspondent), Mei-Li Kao (Taiwan Election Commission), Matt Qvortrup (UK) came forth with their opinions. The revamping, use and most recent reform of the Taiwan Referendum Act have undoubtedly inspired a flurry of new direct democratic action in Taiwan and growing attention and respect from around the world.
Ms Kao said the national election body has been trying to improve the electoral system. She also listed some of the main problems faced during the transition to direct democracy system.
Mr Chang said electronic signature collecting system is important in a direct democracy system.
Prof Su said Taiwan does not have sufficient discussion on referendum as yet, adding that more discussions are needed on the issue.
Mr Qvortrup said, the collective wisdom outweighs the wisdom of the wisest man and this principle has to be followed as regards the direct democracy.
Ms Gardiner said Germany practices direct democracy since 1996, but the pressure is very high. She said the direct democracy law has been amended time and again with the purpose to improve it. Initially, the government ignored the outcome of the initiative but the people continued to put pressure on the government.
“Before direct democracy, people were not interested in politics. Democracy is not complete with direct democracy. Never give up if you lose it. Start again and again! Democracy is a human right,” she observed.
In the second plenary, the discussion focused how Taiwan learnt from the world’s more than direct democracies in one way or the other. (UNI)