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KMT, DPP open LINE accounts to attract younger generation of voters

TAIPEI -- Recognizing the importance of young voters in the year-end local government elections, the two major political parties have launched aggressive campaigns to win over Taiwanese youth, including the use of popular messaging and social media app LINE.

The Japanese instant messaging and multimedia sharing application boasted 17 million users among Taiwan's population of 23.37 million people as of February, according to LINE Corp.

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have now moved to take advantage of that reach ahead of the nationwide elections for mayors, county magistrates and other local officials on Nov. 29.

KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan said the launch of his party's LINE account Tuesday was aimed at creating a “mobile party headquarters” where young people's voices will be heard and their opinions accepted.

“Listening to the younger generation and creating a platform for dialogue are what the KMT has been working to achieve,” Tseng said, adding that his party has noted the rise in smartphone use and will use the account for real-time dialogue with supporters.

The same day, the DPP launched its official LINE account separately.

Edgar Chan, deputy director of the DPP's Department of Internet Development, said the account is the party's latest service to communicate with supporters, joining the ranks of its official Twitter, Plurk, Facebook and Google+ accounts.

The launch coincides with that of the DPP's “People Power” program, which aims to assist enthusiastic young people aged 23-40 in running for small local offices, such as borough chiefs and representatives in city and township councils.

DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said her party launched the program because democracy must be allowed to grow from the grassroots for there to be change in Taiwan's political culture.

“The DPP looks forward to young people joining in politics and will turn their new ideas into public resources,” Tsai told the press.

The party will accept applications for advice and financial support in the elections even from aspirants who are not party members in the hope of reforming politics from the bottom up, Tsai said.

The opposition party has spared little effort in its attempts to harness the energy of politically active young people, who largely overturned stereotypes that they were easily bruised “strawberries” with the Sunflower Movement, which occupied Taiwan's Legislature for three weeks in protest of the trade-in-services pact with China in March.

Tsai said the DPP is also planning a “youth assembly” for face-to-face dialogue with young people.

The first forum is set for the central city of Taichung, seen as an electoral swing district, on July 26 and will be hosted by the DPP candidate for Taichung mayor, Lin Chia-lung, according to Tsai.

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