SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

The Relation of the Referendum and Various Single-Issue Social Movements such as the Marriage Equality Movement and Anti-Nuclear Movement

Brian Hioe (丘琦欣)

Date: 20 June 2019Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 20 June 2019Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Summer School

As this event is part of our SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School, we kindly ask that you register to attend

New Bloom Sunflower


Following 2016, one has observed a sharp decline in street-based mass movements and nationwide social movement organizing in Taiwan. Some has attributed this to a similar phenomenon of the incorporation of social movement and civil society actors into government, as took place during the DPP’s first presidential term under Chen Shui-bian with the Tsai administration coming to power, as well as the phenomenon former activists subsequently sought to run for public office in forming third parties or running as independents.


Either way, since 2016, one has observed the apparent reemergence of single-issue social movements as prominent issues of social movement organizing, such as with regards to marriage equality, the Tsai administration’s changes to the Labor Standards Act, nuclear energy, or under what name Taiwan should participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics under. The notion of a national referendum has also again taken prominence, with the referendum proposed as a means of settling key issues facing Taiwan. Yet this takes place in a changed environment in which the benchmarks needed to hold a national referendum have been lowered, and in which conservative and pan-Blue social movement actors have also taken advantage of the lower benchmarks for referendum.


With the apparent splintering of mass movements after the DPP’s victory in 2016 elections, the prominence of single-issue social movements resembles the situation in which various single-issue movements gradually coalesced in order for larger movements as the 2014 Sunflower Movement to happen. However, what is different between now and then, with the DPP now in power as the ruling party for the second time in history, and the political referendum now having proved a powerful tool for advancing or blocking different single-issue political causes?

Speaker Biography

Brian Hioe Profile

Brian Hioe was one of the founding editors of New Bloom. He is a freelance writer on social movements and politics, and occasional translator. A New York native and Taiwanese-American, he has an MA in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University and graduated from New York University with majors in History, East Asian Studies, and English Literature. He was Democracy and Human Rights Service Fellow at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy from 2017 to 2018.

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