Bruno Kaufmann: What significance does Tainan have for Taiwan’s democracy?
Liu Shih-chung: The democracy movement of our island state actually started here in Taiwan’s oldest city in the 1970ies. Back then, military dictator Chiang Kai-shek governed this country with an iron hand. Many active citizens of our city were persecuted and imprisoned.
B.K.: How has democracy developed in your country since the first free elections 19 years ago?
L.S.C.: We have come very far in a relatively short time. Formally and institutionally, we have gained extensive rights, and civil society is a lot stronger now than it was only a few years ago.
B.K.: How important do you think is this development on a local level?
L.S.C.: Very important, but this does not only apply to Tainan and Taiwan but all over the world. Values such as openness and participation can be realised much more quickly on a local level than on a national level, which is often heavily polarised.
B.K.: How has Switzerland’s model of a modern direct democracy influenced this development?
L.S.C.: The great variety of participatory opportunities, as in Switzerland, is a great example and has certainly influenced our democracy and law-making process over the last few years. We need to learn from the most significant and best practices from all over the world because a strong democracy is our best life insurance.
Translated from German by Billi Bierling