Celebrities endorse gubernatorial tickets, but do they make a difference?

Celebrities endorse gubernatorial tickets, but do they make a difference?

Thejakartapost.com – Celebrities have always been part of the show when it comes to elections. It’s not uncommon to see candidates for regional posts hiring dangdut singers to entertain voters at local campaign rallies. In Jakarta, nationally known musicians are among those who, often voluntarily, endorse gubernatorial tickets.

The upside of this is that celebrities offer a fresh and calming touch, especially when the political rivalry heats up in the approach to polling day.

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama and his running mate in the upcoming election Djarot Saiful Hidayat have the endorsement of an army of celebrities.

Slank, a legendary rock band renowned for the social and political messages in its songs, has declared support for Ahok-Djarot.

Along with dozens of other famous musicians, Slank is scheduled to perform during a large rally for Ahok-Djarot at the former driving range in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Saturday.

“It’s our conscience that persuaded us, not money,” Slank drummer Bimbim said on Friday.

A group of musicians supporting Ahok-Djarot have also released a song titled “Gara-gara Ahok” (It’s All Because of Ahok), which contains lyrics about problems, particularly corruption, that have plagued the city and that can, they claim, be solved by the incumbent ticket.

Singer Teuku Adifitrian, popularly known as Tompi, pop band Nidji’s vocalist Giring Ganesha, singer-songwriters Lala Karmela and Glenn Fredly as well as musician Etta Herawati, known as Bertha, are among the artists behind the song, which was recorded with a dangdut arrangement to appeal to grassroots voters.

Giring said he and other musicians were inspired to create the song for Ahok given the current tension. “Ahok is outspoken, but all he does is for the sake of Jakartans,” he said.

Ansy said the partnership with the musicians was also aimed at demonstrating participative, creative and innovative campaigning, which is still too rare in the country.

“They have not been hired because we wouldn’t be able to afford [them]. With their endorsement, we want to attract undecided and swing voters,” Ansy said.

The Anies Baswedan–Sandiaga Uno ticket has embraced famous celebrity couple Raffi Ahmad and Nagita Slavina and launched a mini talk show program Santai

Sore Anies-Sandi (Relaxed Afternoon with Anies-Sandi), which will be hosted by Raffi, Nagita and another celebrity, Kartika Putri.

The program, comprising five episodes, explores the candidates’ activities throughout their daily lives and includes testimonials from the pair’s relatives.

“Raffi and Nagita will have a significant electoral effect. We want to attract as many young voters as possible,” Anies said.

Raffi said he was helping the ticket voluntarily. “I believe Anies is offering good programs for young Jakartans. But I’d never force my fans to follow [my political preferences],” Raffi said.

Noted actor and comedian Pandji Pragiwaksono has also endorsed Anies-Sandiaga.

Meanwhile, the Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono–Sylviana Murni ticket has mainly relied on the support of celebrity politicians.

Among them are presenter and comedian Eko Patrio from the National Mandate Party (PAN), actress Venna Melinda from the Democratic Party and model Arzeti Bilbina from the National Awakening Party (PKB).

“We have a very limited budget. Voluntary support from celebrities is only from those who are members of political parties,” the ticket’s campaign team spokesman Rachlan Nashidik said.

Political communication expert Zaenal Budiyono of Al-Azhar University in Jakarta said celebrity endorsements had little impact on candidate electability.

“No matter how many famous people back their campaigns, they won’t win votes if they can’t offer good and realistic programs,” Zaenal said.

The use of celebrities in campaigns might only affect lower-income voters with limited educations, he said.

“Middle-income voters are unlikely to be won over by such a strategy,” he added.

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