In Indonesia, we often seen what is called political dynasty where multiple people in a single family are often involved in politics which is problematic as it allows for nepotism and corruption. These political family ties go back decades, in one instance all the way back to Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president. So with this project, we set out to do two things – to identify those who have family members who also hold positions in office and to identify those who have been charged with corruption but are still contesting in the election. So ahead of the local elections in 2018, colloquially known as pilkada, we looked at the full list of candidates, exceeding some 700 people, and identified those who are part of a political dynasty or those who had been charged with corruption. The component is extremely simple in its interface – users need only type in the name of their province at which point the results will show how many candidates are contesting in the region and from those, how many are part of a political dynasty or involved in a corruption investigation. When readers click on one of the tabs, that read gubernatorial candidate, regency candidate or mayoral candidate, they’ll see a family tree showing the how the current candidate (in red) is related to someone else who is currently or formerly in office. We published this a week before the election in hopes of educating voters about the candidates contesting in the local elections so that they may make informed decisions. Our target audience were all Indonesian voters, which is why we made it quick to load and such an easy interface, but we were specifically aiming for first-time voters hence the fun and dynamic design which we mirrored in the social media promotions as well.
What makes this project innovative?
The issue of political dynasties is one that is discussed during every election but this is the first time the information had been displayed in this manner. This was the first time that an interactive component that simplified the data in an interactive component that was easy to use yet just as informative. It’s easy to just list all the candidates who are part of political dynasties but localising it to the users’ province gave them a vested interest as it showed the affiliations of candidates who could potentially be making decisions that could impact their lives. We then made sure we included the component in multiple articles that talked about pilkada candidates so that it helped readers learn a little more about people running for elections. The component is simple, without any bells and whistles, but that is intentional and by design as a large majority of voters were those outside the major cities in Indonesia. This meant that we may have users who were unfamiliar with interactive content which is why we made it extremely simple to use.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The interactive component was included in three articles about pilkada that collectively received just under 90,000 page views with a retention rate of 45 seconds. However the real impact was seen on social media as it was widely discussed as being an easy way for people to understand the true extent of political dynasties in Indonesia, key amongst which was Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch. He tweeted that the component was an important piece of content for people to understand political dynasties in Indonesia. His tweet to his 30,000 followers helped generate even more discussion online about how a lot of people found the component to be helpful ahead of the election.
Source and methodology
This was one of our every first interactive projects as the East Asia Visual Journalism hub and also for all of us on the team. We collaborated with Perludem, a local electoral rights group, who helped us identify candidates who were part of political dynasties and we also got data about all the candidates contesting in the election from the electoral commission. As for the candidates charged with corruption, we based that on numbers released by the election commission during a press conference. Initially, we set out to also make the component double as a dashboard to help readers know who were the candidates contesting in their provinces. That meant I cleaned 700 rows of data (manually as this was one of our first data projects) to ensure the details for each candidate were correct and uniform. Later, we designed and drew all 86 family trees featured on the app after which they were loaded up into the app as images. However once ready, we realised that having it double as a dashboard distracted from the core information which was about political dynasties and corruption. So we made the tough decision of removing all the candidates’ information that weren’t part of our dynasties to focus the content and not distract our users.
Data: Perludem, KPU, Jerome WIRAWAN (BBC Indonesia), Mayuri MEI LIN (BBC World Service - East Asia) Development: Leben ASA UX: Arvin SUPRIYADI