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Indonesian K-pop fans rally for presidential candidate Anies

By Tommy Ardiansyah and Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian presidential candidate Anies Baswedan's young supporters are borrowing elements from their favourite music genre K-pop to boost his popularity, swapping photocards and light sticks decorated with his face before the Feb. 14 poll.

Anies is up against frontrunner Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and ex-Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo in vying for the support of the 205 million Indonesians registered to vote.

With government data showing that more than half of these voters are millennials and Gen Z - people born between 1981 and 2012 - all three candidates have ramped up their social media presence, and especially TikTok, to reach as many young voters as possible.

Anies, however, has taken it one step further by imitating K-pop singers and conducting live-streams from his car, a tactic his supporters say validates their K-pop-influenced campaigning.

"It all started with a TikTok live that Anies did one day," said Hera Putri Haris, a 22-year-old Anies supporter who was carrying plastic cups and fans plastered with his image.

"Most K-pop idols, after performing in music shows, they do similar live-streams."

In addition to the Anies-branded giveaways which include posters and banners, some supporters fund food trucks at campaign events.

K-pop inspired political rallies have become more common as the South Korean music genre sweeps the globe. K-pop fans rallied in Thailand's anti-government movement in 2020, while K-pop fans in the United States raised funds for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Anies' campaign team did not respond to a request for comment but event organiser Muhammad Rasyid Al Kautsar said he believes the cultural phenomenon can help rally supporters.

(Writing by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Miral Fahmy)