Indonesian candidates add social media to campaign arsenals

Candidates are using Twitter, Facebook and other social networks for their electoral pushes.

By Yosita Nirbhaya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

February 05, 2014
Reset Text smaller larger

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

  • The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy's (Elsam) Wahyudi Djafar speaks at the

    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]

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 "" and "" 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.

Add A Comment (Comments Policy)* denotes required field



The most important issue in Indonesia's presidential election is:

Photo Essay

Mariyah Nibosu, whose husband was shot dead in 2009 by unknown gunmen, stands outside her home in September 2013 in the state-run 'widows' village' of Rotan Batu, 20km from Narathiwat. "Women suffer a lot here," she said. "But we are strong. We have to feed our children by ourselves. We have to survive." [Christophe Archambault/AFP]

As Thailand's Deep South insurgency drags on, families suffer, persevere