Sun, Jul 21, 2019 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: The DPP needs to remarket itself

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) needs to increase voter turnout to secure a win at the polls in January, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said during a radio interview on Wednesday last week.

The DPP achieved a decisive win in the 2016 elections, despite the lowest voter turnout in two decades, but the party’s losses in last year’s nine-in-one elections show that the political landscape has been changing. Lin said the buzz around Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) came from those frustrated with or concerned about the nation’s democracy.

Populist candidates backed by China are the real threat to Taiwan’s democracy. The Want Want China Times Media Group’s Beijing ties are public knowledge, but on Wednesday, the Financial Times claimed that the group’s news outlets were receiving direct instructions from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. The alleged instructions apparently included giving a majority of the airtime on the group’s TV channels to Han and front-page coverage to him in the Chinese-language China Times newspaper, the report said.

The National Communications Commission corroborated the Times report with May audit results showing that the group’s CtiTV News allocated 70 percent of its airtime to Han, which highlighted that CtiTV had not met a commission deadline to improve the balance of its political reporting.

Lin said that young people mobilize when a nation is in crisis, as evidenced by Hong Kongers’ protests against the territory’s proposed extradition bill, and he expects many young people to vote in January.

Hopefully Lin is right, but the DPP cannot leave a good turnout to chance. China has been using Taiwanese media as part of its “united front” tactics. The DPP must expose pro-China media — bringing the law to bear on them whenever possible — and must harness social media and big data to leverage itself.

US President Donald Trump’s campaign team used software tools to “cross-reference demographic information with voter affinity related to hot-button issues such as gun control, abortion, the border wall and marijuana legalization,” CBS News reported on Nov. 6 last year, adding that his team then used the information in targeted marketing through social media and other platforms.

Trump’s campaign team presented his position in favor of gun control “as a ‘defense’ to the frightened citizens who live in dangerous neighborhoods, ‘constitutional’ to the purists of the Ten Amendments and as ‘tradition’ to the lovers of sport hunting,” a report posted on the Web site of Italy’s Bologna Business School on Feb. 22 last year said.

Taiwan’s southern cities were once thought to be DPP strongholds, but last year’s elections proved otherwise. The party must remarket itself to swing voters and its traditional base.

The Taipei Times on Thursday reported that Taiwan New Constitution Foundation founder Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) is pushing for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former premier William Lai (賴清德) to run on the same ticket in January’s election. Foundation executive director Lin Yi-cheng (林宜正) believes that such an alliance would unify the party, as Lai is favored by voters over 50 and Tsai is popular among younger voters.

The protests in Hong Kong have given a boost to the DPP, as they demonstrate to the world that the “one country, two systems” formula is a failure. This combined with global attention on China’s crackdown on religious freedom, its arbitrary arrest of foreign nationals and its slowing economy should be highlighted in DPP campaigning as reasons it is senseless to seek closer relations with Beijing, as Han is aiming to do.

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