How K-pop fans are boosting Anies Baswedan’s presidential bid

Anies Baswedan, one of the contenders for the Indonesian presidency, has found an unlikely ally in his campaign: the country’s Gen-Z K-pop fans. Inspired by his hip style and social media presence, they are organizing events and creating merchandise to support their favorite candidate, who they say resembles their beloved idols.

Anies Baswedan
Anies Baswedan

Anies Baswedan: A K-pop idol in politics?

Anies Baswedan, the former governor of Jakarta, is running for the highest office in Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy and most populous Muslim-majority nation. He is facing a tough competition from the ruling party candidate, the former army chief Gatot Nurmantyo, and the former opposition leader Prabowo Subianto, who is leading in most polls.

But Anies has a secret weapon: his appeal to the young and urban voters, especially the fans of Korean pop music, or K-pop. According to a survey by the Indonesian Marketing Association, Anies has the highest support among the 18-24 age group, with 28.6 percent, compared to 23.9 percent for Prabowo and 20.8 percent for Gatot.

Anies has been attracting the attention of K-pop fans with his distinct, hip style and his savvy use of social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. He often posts videos of himself singing, dancing, playing guitar or interacting with his supporters. He also livestreams his activities, such as attending events or traveling in his car, which is similar to what many K-pop idols do.

“It all started from a TikTok live that Anies did one day. He went live after an event, and it happened to be inside a car. Most K-pop idols, after performing in music shows, like the K-pop show Music Bank, they do similar livestreams in that sort of format,” said Rizka, a 19-year-old K-pop fan and Anies supporter.

Humanies: The K-pop fandom of Anies Baswedan

Rizka is one of the organizers of Humanies, a group of K-pop fans who support Anies Baswedan. The name is a combination of human and Anies, and it is also a pun on the word harmonies, which refers to the musical term and the sense of unity. The group is not affiliated with Anies’ official campaign, but it is part of a larger network of fan clubs that call themselves Anies Lovers.

Humanies holds regular events, such as meetups, karaoke sessions, quizzes and games, to celebrate their love for Anies and K-pop. They also create and trade merchandise, such as mugs, stickers, keychains and photocards, that feature Anies’ face and slogans. They say they are inspired by the K-pop culture, where fans often celebrate their idols’ birthdays or comebacks with similar activities and products.

“In K-pop culture, when idols have their birthdays or when their group is on comeback, we throw small celebrations like this in cafes. It’s the same concept – we have photocards and merchandise,” said Rizka.

Humanies also uses social media to promote Anies and his vision. They post videos, memes, hashtags and fan art to show their support and to attract more followers. They also interact with other K-pop fans and try to persuade them to vote for Anies. They say they are not paid or instructed by anyone, but they do it out of their own passion and conviction.

“We are not doing this for money or fame. We are doing this because we believe in Anies and his values. He is honest, humble, smart and visionary. He is like a father figure to us, that’s why we call him Papa Anies,” said Rizka.

The impact of K-pop fans on Indonesian politics

The phenomenon of K-pop fans supporting Anies Baswedan is not unique in Indonesian politics. In fact, K-pop fans have been involved in various political and social issues in the country, such as the 2019 presidential election, the anti-corruption movement, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Myanmar coup.

K-pop fans have used their online influence and mobilization skills to raise awareness, express opinions, donate funds, sign petitions and participate in protests. They have also shown their solidarity with other K-pop fans and human rights activists around the world.

Some experts say that K-pop fans are a powerful force in Indonesian politics, as they represent a large and active segment of the population. According to a report by Twitter, Indonesia is the second-largest market for K-pop in the world, after South Korea. The report also found that K-pop fans in Indonesia are more likely to engage in political conversations on the platform than the average user.

“K-pop fans are not just passive consumers of entertainment. They are also active citizens who care about the issues that affect them and their society. They have the potential to influence the political landscape and the public opinion in Indonesia, especially among the younger generation,” said Dian Ara, a lecturer in media and communication studies at the University of Indonesia.

However, some critics say that K-pop fans are too naive and superficial in their political engagement. They argue that K-pop fans are easily swayed by the appearance and charisma of the candidates, rather than their policies and track records. They also question the sincerity and sustainability of K-pop fans’ involvement in politics, as they may lose interest or switch sides depending on the trends and the popularity of the idols.

“K-pop fans are not a reliable or consistent political force. They are more like a fad or a hobby that can change anytime. They are not well-informed or critical about the political issues and the candidates. They are more interested in the style and the image of the candidates, rather than the substance and the impact of their actions,” said Rudi Sukandar, a political analyst and a former campaign manager for Prabowo Subianto.

The future of K-pop fans and Anies Baswedan

With less than a week until the voting day, K-pop fans who support Anies Baswedan are hopeful that their candidate will win the election. They say they will continue to campaign and to vote for him, regardless of the polls and the opinions of others. They also say they will respect the outcome of the election and the choice of the people, even if Anies loses.

“We are confident that Anies will be the next president of Indonesia. He is the best candidate for the country and for the future. He is also the best candidate for us, the K-pop fans. He understands us and he supports us. He is like our idol in politics,” said Rizka.

But even if Anies wins the election, K-pop fans may face some challenges and expectations in their relationship with him. They may have to deal with the scrutiny and the criticism of the public and the media, who may question their motives and their influence. They may also have to hold Anies accountable and to monitor his performance, to ensure that he delivers his promises and meets their standards.

“We know that Anies is not perfect and he may make mistakes. We are not blind followers who will agree with everything he says or does. We are also critical and rational fans who will give him feedback and suggestions. We will also remind him of his responsibilities and his commitments to us and to the country,” said Rizka.

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