Indonesian candidates add social media to campaign arsenals

Khabar Southeast Asia

Indonesian candidates add social media to campaign arsenals

Yosita Nirbhaya

The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy's (Elsam) Wahyudi Djafar speaks at the "Challenges to Freedom of Expression in the Online World" forum in Jakarta on January 21st. [Yosita Nirbhaya/Khabar]

The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy’s (Elsam) Wahyudi Djafar speaks at the “Challenges to Freedom of Expression in the Online World” forum in Jakarta on January 21st. [Yosita Nirbhaya/Khabar]

Candidates are using twitter, Facebook and other social networks for the electoral pushes

Politicians running in the 2014 Indonesian elections are not relying solely on traditional campaigning to win votes.

Hopefuls in the legislative and presidential races are going online and reaching out to Indonesia’s huge social media audience, using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to spread their messages.

One voter who has been getting to know the candidates via social media, is university student Abimata Putra, 23.

“I think knowing the character and the profile of political candidates is very important. They will make decisions and regulations for society, including for me,” he told Khabar Southeast Asia.

Among Twitter-savvy candidates are Prabowo Subianto, presidential contender from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and Wiranto, one of his rivals in the July 9th election, who represents the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura). Respectively, the two use “@prabowo08” and “@wiranto1947” as Twitter handles.

Gerindra’s account has more than 147,000 followers, according to Setyoko, a member of the party’s online media team. He created the account to interact with supporters, he told Khabar.

“Social media gives politicians and political parties a chance to have a direct interaction with constituents,” said Wahyudi Djafar, a representative of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam).”They must pay attention to the use of social media, and where it should reflect the principles of democracy.”

Indonesia’s online boom

Politicians and their parties are trying to reach voters via the Internet and mobile phone-driven social media networks exploding in Indonesia.

According to the Indonesian Association of Internet Service Providers (APJII), 62 million Indonesians – nearly a quarter of the total population – used the Internet regularly in 2013.

And according to January 2014 statistics from, 62 million are social media users– 52 million of whom rely on mobile phones to access social media networks.

Although Indonesia ranks among the top five countries for social media penetration, according to government data, Internet use is less evenly distributed across the archipelago.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology says that 70% of Internet users are concentrated on Java, mostly in the Jakarta area.

Young people and members of the country’s middle class are primary users of social media, activist Enda Nasution told Khabar. Twitter, Facebook and other networks allow Indonesians to express themselves and also obtain free access to online information, Enda said.