by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: Brian Hioe

THE LEGISLATURE VOTED down the Executive Yuan’s motion to reconsider the controversial legislative powers this afternoon. This took place after two days of arguments between the pan-Blue and pan-Green camps in the legislature.

The main stage on Jinan Road. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

Voting took place around noon. 51 legislators were in favor of the reconsideration motion, while 62 were against it, with the TPP voting unanimously against the reconsideration. As Han Kuo-yu, the KMT president of the legislature, participated personally in voting and voted against the motion, receiving applause from KMT legislators, DPP legislators have criticized him as only pretending to be objective and neutral with regard to legislative proceedings.

Photo credit: Brian Hioe

The past days of arguments regarding the legislature were along familiar lines. DPP legislators criticized the powers sought by the KMT as eroding the distinction between the judiciary and legislative branches of government, in granting powers normally reserved for the judiciary to the legislature in a manner that makes it likely that the pan-Blue camp will weaponize these powers against opponents. Provisions in the legislative changes that allow for fines against “reverse questioning” were criticized as vaguely defined, leading to some fireworks between legislators of both camps seeking to trip each other up over verbal rebuttals that could potentially constitute “reverse questioning.”

Rest area set up by the Che-Lam Presbyterian Church. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

When Premier Cho Jung-tai was questioned by legislators, KMT caucus convener Fu Kun-chi criticized him for referring to Taiwan and China as separate countries. KMT legislator Hsu Hsin-ying also courted anger from members of the public by citing China’s National People’s Congress positively as an example of a legislature with investigative powers such as those currently pushed for by the KMT.

Massage station set up for the Bluebird Movement. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

With the Legislative Yuan expected to vote on the reconsideration motion today, three days of activities were announced by the Economic Democracy Union–the main coordinator of the demonstrations against the legislative powers that have come to be referred to as the Bluebird Movement. Programming, consisting of talks by representatives of civil society, small parties, academics, and independent politicians, was arranged for three days. Wednesday night was announced as reaching 5,000 participants, while yesterday was announced as reaching 8,000 participants. Nevertheless, today was specified as the most important day for mobilization, seeing as it was when the bill would actually be voted on.

Cardboard cut-outs of KMT politicians. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

Consequently, two stages were set up for today, with the main stage on Jinan Road and a secondary stage on Qingdao East Road. Stalls for supplies were placed on both streets, with the Che-Lam Presbyterian Church again acting as a rest site and supply station. A wall for participants to leave messages about hated legislators was established, cardboard cut-outs of hated KMT politicians as Fu Kun-chi were present, while massage stations also were set up, as another hallmark of the Bluebird Movement protests to date. SET and MNews also set up small stages for interviews. Air conditioning units donated by members of the public also provided relief from the heat, today being the summer solstice.

Blue Eagle Movement counter-protest by the KMT. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

A KMT-organized counter-protest also took place this morning, as part of what was termed the “Blue Eagle Movement”, seeing as eagles prey on other birds. The announcement video for the mobilization was popularly mocked online due to misspelling “blue” as “bliue.” The counter-demonstration was, in fact, several times larger than the participants in the Bluebird Movement demonstration this morning. Participants mostly came by bus through pre-existing groups, rather than as individuals who gathered in response to calls on social media, as occurred with the Bluebird Movement protests. As with the pan-Blue “Carnation Movement” that was announced in response to the Sunflower Movement a decade prior, pan-Blue counter-protests continue to make their framing in imitation of the movements they seek to oppose, in also seeking a bird reference much as the Carnation Movement also sought a flower reference.

Nazi banners held by by the German Old Mark Association at the Blue Eagle Movement counter-protest. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

Strangely, several banners featuring the Nazi swastika were present in the Blue Eagle Movement demonstration. This was because of the presence of the German Old Mark Association, a conspiracy theory group involving the belief that Taiwan is owed money for World War I reparations by Germany. Leaked chats from KMT groups show that the KMT was also aware of the poor optics of the group’s presence. Blue Eagle Movement participants largely cleared out by noon, leaving in groups in the buses they had arrived in. These were mostly older individuals, with very few young people.

Blue Eagle Movement demonstrators packing up chairs to leave. Photo credit: Brian Hioe

In the meantime, the Bluebird Movement demonstrators have stated that the planned programming for the rally, which was intended to proceed until evening, will continue–there was little surprise from organizers that the reconsideration measure was voted down. To this extent, the DPP legislative caucus has indicated that it will seek a constitutional interpretation from the Supreme Court over the legislative changes, given the impact on the fundamental separation of powers. Civil society groups have stated that they will seek to participate in the legal arguments regarding this, as specified by law. Efforts to raise local awareness of the issue will continue. To this extent, opposition to KMT-led efforts to reinstate CtiTV, restore KMT party assets, expand the KMT’s wide-sweeping infrastructure proposal for Hualien, revive nuclear power, reinstate the Special Investigation Division and subordinate it to the legislature will continue, and new working groups will be set up for this purpose.

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