I finally got round to checking out two election resources. First, there is the Taiwan election 2012 Flickr group, with contributions from Michael Turton, David Reid and other serious photographer-types. If you are following the elections from afar, its going to be a great way to access some of the flavour of the campaigns. Second, there is a dedicated YouTube Taiwan 2012 site. To my shame (partly because I have a paper coming out in the China Quarterly exhorting researchers to make better use of online resources) I only caught up with this today. It is a definite improvement on the site they ran for the municipal elections.
As far as I can tell, the two major contributions are news clips from all the major TV stations, arranged by channel (the 即時新聞 tab). Balance and choice; good job Google. Second, there is a very neat collection of party campaign materials (divided by party, including minor ones) under the 候選人頻道 tab. The promised 候選人專訪is at present virtually empty, but there’s also some good stuff on the main presidential candidates’ Google+ pages (linked from the homepage). I couldn’t find any talk show coverage on the site, but you can find, for example, 全 民 開 講’s YouTube channel here. Talking of talk shows, check out this PhD thesis by Alice Chu. I don’t think it came out as a book, but please correct me in comments.
The Taipei Times has a feature on young voters, which they define as 20-something. With that definition, we’re talking about a pretty large cohort, about 20% of the electorate. This cohort also sees exceptionally high turnout, around 80%. If they are like their counterparts in other democracies, they should also be less entrenched in their political views and thus more likely to be influenced by shorter-term factors, like what transpires during the campaign. Whereas a large component of older cohorts made their minds up long before the campaign, younger voters are treated as more win-over-able.
It is not surprising that parties want to secure the ‘young’ vote, but apart from how they wrap their message up with social media window dressing, are parties addressing what these voters want? For that matter what do they want? Not surprisingly, they want an economy in which they can get a job and build a decent life, which is pretty much what other cohorts want as well. Shelley Rigger, quoted in the article, is spot on when she says “for a long time, young people in Taiwan felt school was really hard, but there was a reward at the end of it. For today’s youth, it’s not clear that there’s anything waiting for them at the end.” Fashionable gimmicks, national identity rhetoric and personal attacks are no substitute.