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(For Indonesian version, click here)

We continue with an occassional series of posts on what’s happening in the Netizenry of Indonesia. In today’s post, Ndoro Kakung assesses the impact of Jokowi’s horse-riding diplomacy on the Netizens and their reaction toward the political horseplay.

 

Indonesia’s social media users were all abuzz when President Jokowi pranced into the homestead of Gerindra party chairman Prabowo Subianto in Bogor on Monday.

It was the second public meeting between the political rivals since their showdown during the presidential elections in 2014. This meeting of political elites propelled the word “Prabowo” into a Trending Topic on Twitter for most of the day. The responses were generally positive but some Netizens read much more into the meeting than others.

Both Jokowi and Prabowo supporters seemed pleased that the political opponents were able to rise above their rivalry and maintain cordial relations but Jokowi supporters also interpreted the move as evidence of the President’s political acumen.

@zie_ananta, for example, said: “Pak @jokowi @prabowo I like to see this photo (of Jokowi and Prabowo on horseback). I’m afraid to ride a horse, but I like the hats you wear.”

 

@Yosefen_A, “Jokowi’s passage to Hambalang is like a war general riding into the enemy’s camp. Testing the courage of the opponent’s commander. ”

Other Netizens said Indonesia is fortunate to have Jokowi and Prabowo as leaders because usually opposing political elites who’ve clashed with each other rarely patched up (silathurami) by visiting each other’s official residences. They named former Presidents Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Megawati as examples of leaders who could not come to friendly terms after the Chairman of the Democratic Party defeated the Chairman of the PDIP in the 2004 presidential elections.

From the perspective of political communications, Jokowi’s “safari” to Prabowo’s home seems to have paid off with Netizens looking at Jokowi as a politician not only given to political rhetoric but willing to take pains to nurture his relationship with a political opponent by visiting his house. This further reinforces Jokowi’s intended image as a Man of Action.

@ubegebe1 (13,000 followers) said: The javanese are playing “high context” politics. Jokowi meets Prabowo. This is folowed by SBY meeting Wiranto

 

What Jokowi’s gesture seems to have achieved is a lowering of tensions between Netizen supporters of the Jokowi and Prabowo camps, who have been polarized and at each other’s virtual throats since the 2014 elections.

Former Golkar official Indra J Piliang, @IdraJPiliang, for instance tweeted: “The horse-riding diplomacy conducted by Jokowi and Prabowo should cool the rising political temperature. Make a dialogue! ”

 

Supporters from both camps hailed both leaders as statesmen who prioiritzed the national interest over their own.

@ferrywar, an account belonging to architect Ferry Wardiman, proclaimed the event as, “One humble step by Jokowi met with statesman-like positivity by Prabowo, visible to everyone anyone outside the circle.”

 

@DheaMerlinda added: “We are proud of you General for being statesman-like. Although you’ve been betrayed you do not bear a grudge @Prabowo

 

Radio Most Medan broadcaster Arief Lubis (@arief_badil) praised Jokowi as a humble statesman who took time to pay a courtesy call to Prabowo

 

The positive reaction of the Netizens was probably influenced by media reports that carried stories and photographs portraying the meetings as relaxed, intimate and familial.

This was also the impression that the Presidential Staff (@KSPgoid ) wanted to convey as seen in its tweet, accompanied with a photo of both men on horseback: “The intimate atmosphere when President @jokowi visited with @prabowo at his residence, Koneng Bojong, Bogor #BertemuPrabowo”

Many social media users shared the Government’s tweeted photo of both men on horseback, giving credence to the belief that Jokowi’s team are masters at political communication, through use of gestures and images, all assisted by social media.

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Photo: Kantor Staff Presiden

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