Mon, Sep 29, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Time to stop negative campaigns

By Liu Shih-chung 劉世忠

The efficiency of the investigation branch has triggered debate over whether the KMT was behind the summons. Is it coincidental that the KMT’s candidate in Kaohsiung has also been falling behind his opponent?

However, the KMT’s negative campaigning might work against the party.

First, as voters gradually show their dislike over slander and defamation in elections, especially in metropolitan areas, candidates have alternated in their control of the political battlefield through both positive and negative campaigns.

Furthermore, any attacks on a candidate’s personality and family is less effective if there is no concrete evidence.

That means a last-minute false accusation against an opponent does not necessarily translate into electoral support — as has worked in past elections.

Third, more independent voters understand that a spot on one’s record or a blemish on a politician’s character is not necessarily a reflection on other aspects of a candidate’s personality.

Similarly, “middle voters” are much more wary of negative information about a candidate’s position on certain issues. The vast amount of information available on television and on the Internet each day has made them more savvy in assessing attacks against a politician’s voting record.

Finally, negative advertisements are sometimes used as a tactical tool to gain an advantage.

However, most of the time, this practice only works once there is a solution to the problem facing the candidate that can be solved by using positive advertisements.

It is time to stop nasty politics and negative campaigns. The voters expect more debate on policy.

Liu Shih-chung is president of the Taipei-based Taiwan Brain Trust.

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