It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since students and activists occupied the Legislative Building. The social protests leading up to and including the Sunflower Student Movement have collectively increased awareness in social and political issues. Criticisms will arise in looking back and reflecting on the movement, and while we can learn from the past, we must also do what we can to protect our future.
It’s pretty clear that the increase in voting participation by the younger generation was a result of the student movement. More people became aware of social issues. People who were perhaps unclear or disinterested in politics became educated. More social groups were formed to help students return to their hometowns to vote. However, there is a lingering problem ahead.
The next general election (which will decide the president and legislature) is scheduled for January 16, 2016. Currently this runs into the middle of final exams for universities. This will severely hamper the ability of students to return home to vote. Election day is on a Saturday. Not only would students need to pay expensive Friday or Saturday fares for the train ride home, but they would also need to quickly return back to school. This is making election day an unfair disadvantage for university students.
The KMT would be at an advantage with a low student turnout since students tend to vote for the opposition party. This was very clear in the November election when the KMT did very poorly. The election date issue also comes up time and time again leading up to the presidential election.
Until this is figured out and everyone is given a fair chance to vote, we will not have a fair election. This is why the battle for our rights has not ended. We need to keep fighting against unjust situations like these and keep democracy alive in Taiwan.