The presidential campaigns of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) bear striking similarities to each other, despite the two camps professing to offer different visions for Taiwan's future, political observers said.
Wang Tai-li (王泰俐), an assistant professor in National Chengchi University's journalism department, said that much of the campaign literature and slogans -- and even the appearances of the campaign rallies of KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and DPP candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) -- resemble each other to a significant degree.
"If you turned down the volume on the television and watched the campaign rallies of the two candidates, it would be difficult to tell them apart," Wang said.
"I don't know if the two camps are intentionally moving toward the center, but the content of their respective campaigns has certainly become less distinguishable," she said.
Wang said that KMT rallies have increasingly incorporated elements of the DPP's Taiwan-centric stance, including more use of Hoklo in speeches, as well as props that display traditional local culture, such Taiwanese hand puppet theater.
Ever since President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) Taipei mayoral election victory in 1994, achieved with the aid of campaign advisers who helped him establish support among young people and the more "Taiwan-first" voters, the KMT has tried to learn from the DPP's campaign experiences, Wang said.
Meanwhile, Chinese dissident Wang Dan (王丹) said that in contrast to US presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who have tried to stress their differences in their campaigns for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Taiwan's presidential candidates "seem to intentionally be trying to stress their similarities to each other, whether in terms of policies or attitudes."
Wu Juei-jen (吳叡人), an assistant researcher at Academia Sinica, said that the similarities between the campaigns was a manifestation of a consensus on distinct Taiwan-related issues, such as Taiwanese identity, which was repressed under the past authoritarian regime of the KMT.
However, Wu said, it is possible that the KMT, after witnessing the effectiveness as a vote-getter of promoting Taiwanese identity, is only using these kinds of slogans as a campaign strategy to prevent the DPP from monopolizing them.
Nevertheless, he said, even though the KMT's promotion of values highlighting Taiwan's unique identity might be based primarily on political considerations, the result could be that Taiwanese identity is being strengthened in the process as the KMT changes its way of thinking, leading to a further consolidation of Taiwan-centric values.
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