Candidates take their campaigns online

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Anton Muhajir,  The Jakarta Post,  Denpasar | Mon, 02/02/2009 4:06 PM | Bali

Rather than displaying their faces on billboards and banners, several Bali legislative candidates have decided to take their campaigns online.

I Gusti Agung Putri Astrid Kartika is one of them. For the past six months, the candidate from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has been counting on her two Facebook profiles and her blog page to promote her candidacy.

“One person left a comment, saying that a legislative candidate shouldn’t be drinking,” she said, referring to her recent Facebook profile update that she was “enjoying a beer”.

“But it’s actually fun because I get to talk to my voters, especially new voters, and it make politics more accessible to them.”

Aside from having her profile on display in her sites, Putri also blogs at ttp:// She usually blogs about current issues such as the Constitutional Court’s latest decision on votes for legislative candidates.

She said her websites have received a lot of responses from voters, from those who were just dropping by to say hi or those asking whether she was really running for a legislative seat.

“The online media is a very effective tool to introduce myself to first time voters,” she said.

“Most first time voters never even think about legislative candidates because the position itself seems so ephemeral. The online media takes away that gap and allow them to see us for who we really are.”

Putri said she has yet to fully utilize cyberspace for campaigning though, saying that she had not created a team to respond to the multitude of friend requests or comments flooding her websites.

“I have a friend who helps me keep my blog updated…but I update my Facebook myself. My eyes hurt sometimes from looking at the computer screen for so long,” she said.

Meanwhile, different from Putri who tackles cyberspace campaigning alone, Andrei Simanjuntak has created a special team to campaign online.

Andrei, who is a House of Representatives candidate from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), uses Facebook as his main media.

“We saw (Barack) Obama succeeding with the help of online media, so we decided to give that a try,” said Evan Pangkahila, the creator of a Facebook support group for Andrei.

Evan, who works in a drug rehabilitation center in the Bali Conscience Foundation (YBN), created the group with two friends from YBN, one of which lives in Kalimantan.

He said the support group itself focuses on fund-raising for Andrei’s campaign, though the effort, which began three-weeks ago, has yet to garner much money.

“We’re more likely to just meet some of Andrei’s old friends,” Evan said.

Despite meager results, Evan was optimistic online campaign would be an effective campaigning tool, though adding that it could not replace campaigning in the street yet.

Putri agreed, citing the different demographic targets of each legislative candidate.

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