Abstract

Purpose of the study: This paper depicts the use of social media for political campaign in Indonesia and Malaysia whilst especially aiming at investigating religious and political sentiment of Indonesian (young) voters (reflected in their Twitter accounts, especially the tweets and memes) that supported Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla (hereafter Jokowi’s camp) and Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa camps (hereafter Prabowo’s camp) in the 2014 Presidential Election Indonesia.

Methodology: This qualitative study is a discourse analysis that deploys the Hallidayean transitivity system, language evaluation theory as well as social semiotics. Using stratified purposeful sampling, the data (tweets and memes of two contest political camps – the Islamic(/st?) versus the Nationalist) were taken during the campaign days (4 June –5 July 2014).

Main Findings: In the Indonesian case, the (c)overt black campaign of both camps operates in the framework of the contestation as well as the synthesis of the nationalist/Islamic(/st?) strands. They are deployed to be rhymed in the brand resonance the both camps’ campaign team forged. As for Malaysian, the use of social media platforms by its young electorates did not guarantee the popularity gained by the (legislative) candidates, as they overlooked the people’s collective memories of the 1998 Reform Movement that resonated with Malaysian identity.

Implicationof this study: As a preliminary part of multiyear research funded by Indonesia’s Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, the findings become the textual foundation in producing the recommendation for public policy on the political campaign in social media (in this case the Twitter). Compared to other social media platforms, Twitter was chosen as it provides limited numbers of characters for its users (especially the two main camps – Jokowi’s versus Prabowo’s camps), not only to tweet but that more importantly also the tweets represent the perennial discursive contestation of the Islamic (-/st?) versus Nationalist strands to the current 2019 elections Indonesia.

Novelty/Originality of this study: The (c)overt black campaign of both camps operates in the framework of the contestation as well as the synthesis of the nationalist/Islamic(/st?) strands. They are deployed to be rhymed in the brand resonance the campaign team forged. A similar contesting strategy is deployed, such as countering similar religious and political issues that represent the supporters/volunteers(read also: public) sentiment in the cyberwar (in the form of utterance and visual war).

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