The power of persuasion : Modality and issue framing in the 2012 Taiwan Presidential Debates

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-194
Journal / PublicationDiscourse and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


Presidential debates have become a pre-election fixture in Taiwan since the first-ever televised presidential debate held in 2004. In the 2012 Taiwan presidential election, it was a three-way contest among the incumbent Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the two challengers: Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and James Soong of the People First Party (PFP). The crucial issues in this presidential race were the domestic economy and cross-strait stability. Candidates jousted in two televised presidential debates on 3 December and 17 December 2011, respectively, to persuade the undecided toss-up voters. This article aims to adopt a critical discourse analysis approach to explore the ideological underpinnings of modality used by the three candidates in the 2012 Taiwan Presidential Debates. This modality analysis of the debate discourse, in view of a dearth of studies on the use of modality in Chinese political discourse, will provide an insight into the politicians’ use of modal verbs, adverbs, and adjectives as linguistic and ideological tools to show their obligation, make promises, demonstrate their commitment, and most importantly frame their arguments in a purpose of persuading the electorate and soliciting their support.

Research Area(s)

  • Issue framing, Ma Ying-jeou, modality analysis, persuasion, televised presidential debate, Tsai Ing-wen