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When a commercial featuring incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo was recently shown before a film at a local movie theater, members of the audience were seen grabbing their smartphones to tell friends about it using social media.
The commercial, made as part of commemorations for Jakarta’s anniversary in June, gave local netizens more grist for the political mill as Election Day approaches.
While most of the gubernatorial candidates have run conventional campaigns, some have developed new-media approaches to reach voters, including Internet campaigns.
Of the six campaigns, only four have set up official websites: Fauzi, Alex Noerdin, Hidayat Nurwahid and Faisal Basri.
While Joko “Jokowi” Widodo does not have his own website, his running mate, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, does. Hendardji Soepandji and running mate Ahmad Riza Patria also lack websites.
All the candidates and campaigns have Twitter accounts, however.
Meanwhile, Faisal, an independent candidate, has been using YouTube to upload promotional videos and testimonials from several public figures who have endorsed his bid to lead the city.
Social and political activists have said that the time was right to use online and new media to mobilize voters on the host of problems plaguing Indonesia and especially Jakarta, the most developed area of the archipelago.
There were more than 40.8 million Facebook accounts registered in Indonesia as of November, second only to the United States, which recorded 155.98 million users.
After Indonesia, Facebook recorded the most users in India, with 38 million accounts; the UK, with 30.48 million; Turkey, with 30.47 million; Brazil, with 30.4 million; Mexico, with 30.1 million; the Philippines, with 26.7 million; France, with 23.2 million; and Germany, with 21.6 million.
There are also 6.2 million Twitter accounts registered in Indonesia, comprising 2.6 percent of the microblogging website’s users. The nation has the third-largest number of Twitter accounts in the world, behind Japan, with 16.1 million users; and India,with 6.4 million.
The current batch of gubernatorial candidates have been praised for their progress in running less obtrusive campaigns.
Absent – or almost absent – have been the massive street rallies and huge convoys of flag-waving vehicles that frequently added to the city’s horrendous traffic in previous campaigns, whether gubernatorial or presidential.
Much of the credit can be attributed to the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta), which has allowed each campaign only a single mass event.
However, even before the start of the official campaign season on June 24, the gubernatorial candidates, especially Fauzi, were reaching out to voters at face-to-face events or visiting places where groups of people typically gather – the most popular sites were traditional markets.
During these meetings, the candidates introduced themselves, talked to people and distributed campaign materialss.
Gun Gun Heryanto, executive director of the Political Literacy Institute, said he had observed a more intense use of the Internet and traditional media, as opposed to street campaigning, this campaign season.
“This is quite a new approach in the capital’s political landscape. I believe this is a response to the demands of the public, who have been critical, saying that the old methods of campaigning are no longer effective and tend to have negative effects,” Gun Gun said.
He said that despite the use of new methods, conventional campaigning has not gone by the wayside: banners (spanduk), posters and stickers have mushroomed on lampposts, fences, alleyways and street corners in every part of the capital.
“Candidates tried new methods, but the old campaign forms have not been left behind,” Gun Gun said.
Prior to the start of the official campaign, Jakarta’s Election Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) reported that it had taken down 13,640 illegal election-related banners and similar promotional media in an operation with the City Public Order Agency.
Panwaslu chairman Ramdansyah said that the banners and posters were mostly posted by low-level party members or exuberant supporters.
“I think this is part of the failure of political leaders to educate their supporters. In residential areas, for example, we took banners down but new ones will go up again overnight,” Ramdansyah said.
Campaign Schedule for Wednesday, July 4
Zone A (South Jakarta, West Jakarta, Central Jakarta)
• Fauzi Bowo-Nachrowi Ramli, Hendardji Soepandji-Ahmad Riza, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama
Zone B (East Jakarta, North Jakarta, Thousand Islands)
• Hidayat -Didik J. Rachbini, Faisal Basri-Biem Benjamin, Alex Noerdin-Nono Sampono