Veteran social activists intend to introduce a new center-left political party — the Social Democratic Party (SDP, 社會民主黨) — in next year’s legislative elections.
Led by National Taiwan University professor Fan Yun (范雲), the party is to officially announce its bid to enter the race by early next month.
“We differ from current prevailing methods of economic development, which often expect a certain industry to act as a ‘locomotive of growth’ for other sectors,” SDP founding member and potential legislative candidate Urda Yen (嚴婉玲) said, adding that the party supports the development of industries that address the current needs of society — such as long-term care for the elderly or clean energy generation.
Yen was previously spokesperson for the Economic Democracy Union, a group that originated in early campaigns against the cross-strait service trade agreement that preceded the Sunflower movement last year.
In terms of cross-strait issues, the SDP considers Taiwan an independent nation separate from China and would focus its platform on economic issues and social equality, Yen said.
Fan has been confirmed as a candidate for legislator next year, while Yen and National Chung Cheng University academic Chen Shang-chih (陳尚志) are considering candidacy, Yen said.
While Fan is likely to enter the race in Taipei’s Daan District (大安), Yen is considering running for legislator in New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋).
The move would pit Yen against Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) incumbent Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), who spearheaded the KMT’s efforts last year to promote the trade pact.
Amid an explosion of candidates from minor parties for next year’s elections, the SDP is engaged in discussions with the environmental issue-based Green Party about a joint legislator-at-large nomination list, Yen said.
Although the SDP does not rule out cooperation with major parties — such as possible coordination with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to avoid nominating candidates in the same constituency — they are “most likely” to cooperate with the Green Party in terms of nominating joint candidates, she added.
The upcoming political party is to feature a rose — an international symbol for socialism — in its official emblem, Yen said.
The rose is to be rainbow-colored instead of solid red to illustrate the party’s roots in a diverse range of progressive social causes — including women’s rights, children’s rights, gay rights and media reform — instead of being strictly limited to left-wing labor movements, she added.
The party is set to be the second founded by members of the civic group Taiwan Citizen’s Union (TCU), after a separate group of TCU members launched the New Power Party less than a month ago.
In addition to the four major parties that hold seats in the national legislature, up to 10 minor parties — many with progressive or activist agendas — are planning to enter the race, which is scheduled for January next year.