Indonesia Elections 2014: Campaigning via social media catches on fast

Indonesia Elections 2014: Campaigning via social media catches on fast
Mas Garuda, or Mas Gar, a superhero creation based on the mythical Indonesian bird, is part of the social media strategy of the Gerindra Party.

JAKARTA - A man in an eagle mask, red suit and black gloves swoops down on a sleeping MP, waking him up by dousing him with an unidentified stream of liquid.

The eagle is Mas Garuda, or Mas Gar, a superhero creation based on the mythical Indonesian bird, and clips of him in action have gone viral on social media, with one clip garnering nearly 80,000 views.

It is part of the social media strategy of the Gerindra Party which, like its competitors, has been making use of online avenues to reach out to voters.

"We want to inject some freshness in the way we reach out to voters," said Mr Noudhy Valdryno, Gerindra's digital media strategist.

It has created e-posters and clips showing Mas Gar fighting corruption, vote-buying and terrorism, signalling what Gerindra will fight against.

Though TV advertisements still lead the way in budgets for campaign spending, Internet campaigning is catching up, said PoliticaWave executive director Yose Rizal.

Some political parties have set aside at least a third of their campaign budgets for social media teams, according to party spokesmen.

As of last November, Indonesia was among the top five countries globally for the number of Twitter users (20 million) and Facebook accounts (65 million), according to the Ministry of Communication and Information.

Of its 250 million population, at least 28 per cent have access to the Internet, according to the Association of Indonesian Internet Providers.

A PoliticaWave study in the first half of last month found a third of all political candidates had a presence on social media, a number that has shot up from a negligible figure in 2009.

National Democratic Party has the most number of political candidates on social media, followed by Golkar, National Mandate Party and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

zubaidah@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 4 in The Straits Times.

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