Visualizing Politics in Indonesia: The Design and Distribution of Election Posters

Colm A. Fox


Where studies have shown that visuals are the primary means of political communication, research continues to focus largely on text-based information. To add to our understanding of visual-political communications, this article analyses Indonesian election posters since the 1950s. Drawing on historical materials and on a content analysis of 4,000 election posters, it asks why election posters have been designed and distributed in particular ways. Findings indicate that in the past, posters used singular, though powerful, social symbols to mobilize demographic groups behind political parties. However, contemporary posters are more visually complex and more candidate-centered, making arguments as to what the candidates represent. Furthermore, although the wide distribution of posters has always been used to signify strength, the number of posters has proliferated in recent elections. These trends can be explained by underlying social forces, advances in technology, institutional reforms, and the identities and types of parties and candidates.


visual communications, election posters, election campaigns, democracy, electoral systems, Indonesia

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