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  • Denisa Mayari

Baliho Blues: Visuals or Values?

As Indonesia finds itself in the last highs and lows of musim pemilu (voting season), the political landscape is ablaze with the spirited campaigns of political parties and their candidates. However, amid the passion and promises, there's a pressing issue that often escapes attention—the environmental toll of traditional campaign methods, particularly the omnipresent baliho or campaign posters. In a nation grappling with waste management problems, especially in dense urban areas like Jakarta, the surge in campaign posters only compounds existing challenges. It is crucial  that we assess the environmental ramifications of conventional campaign strategies and explore more sustainable alternatives in the age of digital innovation.

The physical campaign materials, such as the baliho, pose major threats to the environment. In a country already struggling with waste management, the excessive use of baliho, which are also made from typically non-biodegradable plastics or synthetic materials, aggravates environmental issues. Despite regulations from the Election Supervisory Agency (Badan Pengawas Pemilihan Umum or Bawaslu) and the General Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum or KPU), these posters often end up as eyesores, lacking informative content and damaging the aesthetic appeal of cities across Indonesia.

In accordance with Article 34 of PKPU (Peraturan Komisi Pemilihan Umum orThe General Election Commission Regulation) 15/2023, paragraph (2), various campaign materials in public spaces encompass advertisements, banners, and flags. The design and content of these campaign materials are required to include, at the very least, the vision, mission, programs, and the candidate's self-image. Furthermore, Article 36 of the same PKPU stipulates that the Election Commission (KPU) has designated specific locations for the placement of campaign materials. These locations are determined after coordinating with local governments and considering factors including but not limited to the ethics, and cleanliness of the area.

However, reality often diverges from the intended purpose. Baliho, despite being regulated by these articles, frequently end up as wasteful remnants. They fall short of fulfilling their potential as educational tools for passersby, neglecting to convey the candidates' ideas or goals regarding the issues they care about and champion. The failure to incorporate meaningful content on these posters results in an opportunity lost for political candidates to engage with the public and foster awareness on critical issues. In essence, baliho become mere contributors to pollution, causing aesthetic degradation and, in some instances, posing hazards to the public.

Recent events have further underscored the real-world consequences of physical campaign materials. On January 10th, two teenage girls from Kebumen were riding a motorcycle when they were struck by a baliho that was blown away by the wind. One victim lost her life, while the other sustained injuries. Last December, there were at least two instances of falling campaign posters leading to accidents in Tambora and Kembangan, Jakarta. Despite adhering to regulations regarding placement, the structural integrity of these posters were seemingly compromised. These unfortunate incidents call for a reassessment of not only the effectiveness, but the safety of traditional campaign methods and their potential harm to the public.  

As Indonesia stands at the intersection of political transformation and environmental consciousness, it is pivotal to reform the approach to political campaigns. By aligning the regulations with the intended purpose of educating and engaging the public, we can strike a balance between political expression and responsibility to the environment and especially to the people of Indonesia. It is time to reimagine campaign posters not as mere structures in the landscape but as conduits of meaningful dialogue, paving the way for a more sustainable and responsible political future.


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