INDONESIAN President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s presence on social media far outweighs that of his sole opponent, Prabowo Subianto, barely a month before the republic’s election campaign season goes into full swing.
Jokowi is dominating on Twitter with 10.2 million followers while Subianto has only a third of the figure at 3.17 million followers, Bloomberg reported.
On Instagram, Jokowi’s 10.8 million followers outnumber Prabowo eight-to-one, but the incumbent president is behind Prabowo on Facebook with one million fewer followers.
With more than half a million followers on YouTube, Jokowi regularly updates his channel with vlogs but Subianto does not appear to have a dedicated channel.
With over 100 million smartphone users in the country, social media is expected to be a key battleground for the two politicians who are wooing an estimated 70 million first-time voters.
And until polling day in April next year, the candidates are expected to be using technology like never before.
On Thursday, Jokowi announced the selection of 75-year-old Islamist cleric and nonpolitical party figure Ma’ruf Amin as his vice-presidential candidate as he looks to boost his Islamic credentials.
Ma’ruf’s selection comes at a time when the Muslim-majority country is experiencing the decline of its pluralistic brand of Islam and the rise of religious fundamentalism promulgated by influential far-right groups.
Prabowo had picked the deputy governor of Jakarta, Sandiaga Uno to be his running mate. The two Jokowi opponents are nationalists with deep ties to the business and military elite, as well as popular ultraconservative religious groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (IDF).
An observer said although the president has consolidated his Islamic image with Ma’ruf by his side, Jokowi faces another challenge in the form of youth voters interested in his running mate’s opponent, Sandiaga, who is a younger candidate.
Sandiaga has 1.5 million followers on Instagram and nearly a million followers each on Facebook and Twitter, while Ma’ruf has only 105,000 Instagram followers and no verified Twitter account. Ma’ruf’s last Facebook post was in Feb 2016.
However, Jokowi, who is regularly seen sporting T-shirts and jeans and who has a love for superbikes and heavy metal music, might be more popular among the millennials than 66-year-old Subianto, a former armed forces general.
“The number of millennials could be about 40 to 50 per cent of total voters,” said Usep Ahyar, a director at Populi Center, a Jakarta-based pollster, told Bloomberg.
“Candidates who can secure the millennials have a bigger chance to win the election.”