Thursday, June 5, 2014

Youth and New Media: KMT Achilles Heel

Youth and New Media: KMT Achilles Heel
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 5, 2014

Summary: The 2014 mayoral campaign has begun. The 2016 presidential election drumbeats have been sounded. Blue and green camp spokesperson appointments could lead to upsets in key campaigns. How will their spokespersons use young people and the new media? That will surely have a decisive influence on the outcome of the elections.

Full Text Below:

Over the past two years, the role of young people during blue camp election campaigns has gradually diminished. The blue camp has all but conceded the new media to its opponents. During the student movement, the Kuomintang virtually lost all touch with young people.

Ko Wen-je is the green camp's candidate for Mayor of Taipei. The search for a Ko campaign spokesperson has attracted much attention. Some think a pearl can be found in a sea of young people. Some think the search is merely a marketing gimmick. Before Ko Wen-je chooses a spokesperson, he should consult Ma Ying-jeou.

Most people think a spokesperson for a government official or political candidate is nothing more than a mouthpiece. This is only partly true. A spokesperson must also be a political leader's eyes and ears, even brains. A spokesperson must represent a political leader on the front lines. A spokesperson must express the political leader's views, while managing crises on the fly. A spokesperson must accurately gauge public opinion. When other political leaders express doubts, the spokesperson must immediately take control. The spokesperson must issue the proper response. The spokesperson must be like a musketeer under fire, as well as a sentry in the forest. An inept spokesperson could do more than undermine the political leader's defense. An inept spokesperson could leave the political leader blind and deaf.

The role of spokesperson is extremely important. One can see how the KMT and the DPP use people from their choice of spokespersons.

During the 2008 presidential election, Ma Ying-jeou appointed three primary spokespersons. Wang Yu-chi, Su Chun-ping, and Lo Chi-chiang. All three were new faces, young, without strong political backgrounds. They were dubbed the Three Musketeers. When the general election began, they shined. Later they enjoyed smooth sailing in their careers. During the Ma administration's second term, Wang Yu-chi became the youngest ever Mainland Affairs Council Chair. Su Chun-ping became head of the GIO. In 2012, he traveled south to run for legislator. He helped Ma Ying-jeou break new ground in a hostile district. Lo Chi-chiang became deputy campaign manager in 2012. He was then promoted to Deputy Secretary of the Office of the President, but resigned during the September political storm.

During the 2012 Presidential Election, President Ma's spokesperson appointments revealed clear preferences. The first group of candidates included Li Chia-fei, 36 years old, Yin Wei, 30 years old, and Ma Wei-kuo, 29 years old. The average age was 31.6 years old. All were new to the political scene.

Tsai Ing-wen was completely different. Her spokesperson candidates included Chen Chi-mai, 48 years old, Hsu Chia-ching, 44 years old, Hsiao Bi-khim, 42 years old, Cheng Li-chun, 43 years old. The average age was 44.5 years old, a full 13 years older than Ma Ying-jeou's spokesperson candidates. The gap bridges an entire generation. These four spokespersons may become elected officials for many years. They may serve as political appointees. All have achieved prominence.

Consider the political style of the two sides' spokespersons. Blue camp spokespersons value discipline and teamwork over individual performance. Green camp spokespersons value independence. They do not await orders before going into action. Blue camp spokespersons may be young, but the speak with restraint. They tend to go by the book. Green camp spokespersons are tough. They tend to favor guerrilla tactics.

Generally speaking, the DPP is more willing to give young people a chance. But for spokesperson appointments, the opposite is true. The DPP is more conservative. Paradoxically, the KMT, which is usually considered more conservative, has boldly appointed young spokespersons.

Consider electoral and political culture. Ma Ying-jeou's campaign spokesperson appointments were a plus. The spokespersons gave him a public face. They showed that the KMT attached importance to young people. They closed the gap with the younger generation. This is the Internet era. The new media is growing in importance. Young people are far more familiar with the Internet than their elders. Young political leaders faimilar with the new media helped during the 2012 presidential election. FaceBook was the most important new media battleground. Before the election, Ma Ying-jeou's presence on FaceBook was weak. Once the election campaign began, younger spokespersons used the new media and came up from behind. On election day, Ma Ying-jeou had over one million FaceBook "friends." Tsai Ing-wen had approximately 400,000. The gap between the two was nearly 600,000. This of course affected the two sides' exposure and support.

Politics is ever changing. In 2012 the green camp learned a lesson. Over two short years, the student movement dialogued with the younger generation. Young people expanded their influence by using the new media. Tsai Ing-wen once again became party chairperson. Her Internet Division Director wants to boldly appoint young people familiar with Internet technology. His plan was dropped due to controversy. But it clearly showed DPP tactics have changed. Once President Ma was re-elected, the Office of the President abandoned the new media battlefield. This surely bears some relation to his current disastrous approval rating.

Over the last two years, the role of young people in the blue camp has diminished. The blue camp has surrendered the new media to its opponents. During the student movement, the Kuomintang nearly lost touch with young people. Although the KMT has used young people as spokespersons, its thinking remains conservative. Young people are not useful merely as fronts. They contribute to collective change in the political culture.

The 2014 mayoral campaign has begun. The 2016 presidential election drumbeats have been sounded. Blue and green camp spokesperson appointments could lead to upsets in key campaigns. How will their spokespersons use young people and the new media? That will surely have a decisive influence on the outcome of the elections.

2014年06月05日 04:10



一 般人認為,發言人就是首長或候選人的喉舌,其實,這只對了一部分,發言人還必須是耳目,甚至是大腦。發言人不但要在火線上代表政治領袖,同時做好靜態的理 念闡述與動態的危機管理,更要在第一線蒐集輿情,當外界開始對政治領袖有所質疑時,能立即掌握訊息,做好準備,從容不迫做出正確反應。從辯護的功能論,發 言人是衝鋒陷陣的火槍兵,從輿情蒐集的功能論,是深入叢林的哨兵。發言人不好,不只影響辯護,更會讓政治領袖耳目不明。


2008 年總統大選,馬英九任命的3位主力發言人:王郁琦、蘇俊賓、羅智強都是政壇新面孔,年輕且無深厚政治背景,被稱三劍客的3位發言人,大選時衝鋒陷陣,戰功 彪炳,後來在政治發展上一路順遂,王郁琦在馬政府第二任期成為最年輕的陸委會主委;蘇俊賓先為新聞局長,2012年以刺客之姿南下參選立委,為馬英九在艱 困選區開疆闢土;羅智強2012選戰成為副操盤手,再被拔擢為總統府副祕書長,但在九月風暴中去職。





從 選舉或政治培養的角度來看,馬英九選戰的發言人任用,是為他加分的。發言人的「門面效應」,有助於補強國民黨不重視年輕人、與年輕世代疏離的形象。尤其在 網路時代,新媒體戰場愈來愈重要,年輕人對網路的熟悉度與掌握度絕對超越年長者,用對年輕人有助於政治領袖對新媒體的經營。以2012總統大選最重要的新 媒體戰場──臉書來看,選戰開打前,馬英九的臉書聲勢十分低迷,選戰開打後,在年輕發言人與新媒體幕僚群衝刺下,卻後來居上。總統大選投票日前,馬英九臉 書粉絲已破百萬數,蔡英文則約莫40多萬,雙方差距近60萬,這當然影響了雙方在新媒體戰場的發聲權與支持度。

政治瞬息萬變,綠營在 2012嘗到教訓,短短兩年,在一波波的學運中與年輕世代保持對話,透過年輕人在新媒體上擴大影響力。蔡英文回任黨主席,網路部主任一度想大膽任用年輕的 網路科技人,雖然後來因為引發爭議而作罷,但已清楚顯示,民進黨戰法已經改變。反而馬總統在當選連任後,總統府未堅守新媒體戰場,應與如今民意支持度兵敗 如山倒有關。



No comments: