Online volunteers to campaign for Jokowi-Ahok ahead of runoff vote
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After failing to gain major parties’ support and coming under fire from a slew of negative campaigns against its candidate, the campaign team for Surakarta Mayor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on Sunday that it formed a special unit of volunteers to gather support through social media platforms ahead of the Sept. 20 Jakarta gubernatorial runoff vote.
The Jokowi camp said that one of the main purposes behind their online campaign was to counter negative messages aimed at Jokowi and his running mate, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. “There’s a lot of negative campaigns against Jokowi-Ahok. We will counter them through a positive and elegant way,” Kartika Djoemadi, coordinator for the Jokowi-Ahok Social Media Volunteers (Jasmev), told reporters during a press conference in Central Jakarta.
Kartika said that the camp decided that forming a special team to campaign on the Internet was necessary. “We can coordinate and campaign more effectively on social media,” she said.
Jasmev had already drawn more than a thousand people who are willing to contribute to the campaign and most of them were college students and office workers, she said.
“Many use social media sites to spread negative campaigns, failing to make use of social media for positive campaigning,” Kartika said.
Last month, the Jokowi camp filed a report with the Jakarta Police, claiming that there had been an effort to smear Jokowi and Ahok.
The campaign team said it had come across pamphlets and had read messages on Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger that denigrated Ahok’s Chinese heritage and Christian faith.
Deploying a volunteer-based social media unit represents a serious attempt by Jokowi’s camp to rally support after political parties opted to back his rival, incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo.
Jokowi is one of the few candidates who managed to draw support from netizens during the election’s first round. According to politicawave.com, a site that monitors political conversations on social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online forums, online news and YouTube, Jokowi topped the list of candidates routinely discussed in the social media with 499,812 mentions by 149,812 users, followed by Fauzi Bowo-Nachrowi Ramli with 494,009 mentions by 164,223 users and Faisal Basri-Biem Benyamin with 257,596 mentions by 49,946 users.
Also on Sunday, Jokowi said he would coordinate with public groups, communities and organization in the runoff. “We have formed alliances with them, and we will organize alliances,” Jokowi said on the sidelines of an event in Central Jakarta.
He said he was still optimistic and would work harder in the runoff election. “The fact is we are now surrounded [by other political parties]. We have to put more effort into the runoff,” Jokowi said.
The Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the second-largest faction in City Council with 18 out of 94 seats, was the latest party to announce its support for Jokowi’s rival on Saturday.
Following the first-round defeat of their respective candidates, the United Development Party (PPP) and Golkar — each with seven seats in the council — and the National Mandate Party (PAN) with four seats joined the Democratic Party and the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) to support Fauzi’s reelection bid.
The Democratic Party is the largest party in the council with 32 seats, while Hanura controls four seats.
Jokowi has retained the supports of his first-round backers the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which has 11 council seats, and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), which has six seats.