an article in GENDER DAN POLITIK (Gender and Politic) book. ISBN 978-979-1262-26-2, Published incorporation between Pusat Studi Wanita Universitas  Gadjah Mada and Tiara Wacana publisher, 2009

Iqbal Nurul Azhar

(Faculty of Social and Cultural Science, Trunojoyo State University)

Abstact: Pemilihan gubernur di Jawa Timur menyisakan banyak cerita yang menarik untuk dikaji. Salah satunya adalah kemunculan calon Gubernur yang berasal dari kalangan wanita. Kemunculan calon gubernur wanita ini pertama kalinya menimbulkan berbagai macam pro maupun kontra. Apapun hasilnya, kemunculan calon gubernur wanita ini seakan memberi pertanda bahwa kaum wanita tidak boleh dipandang remeh. Wanita akan dapat menundukkan dominasi laki-laki asalkan memiliki senjata retorika dan bahasa yang mampu membangun sebuah image yang sangat baik.

Key words: Political Language, The Election of Governor of East Java, Female

The condition of East Javanese’s thought that has gradually been changing from traditional thought into the more modern one sometimes results various demands to appear. These demands include the wider people’s participation in politics. Not only rural people are pursuing this wider participation, another ‘marginalized’ group such as the women’s group, is also showing their desire to get involve actively in this field.  This wider participation is viewed by women as one of the processes to improve their sanity and involvements in politics without exception or without any segregation.

Unluckily, this demand meets many disputes.  The biggest obstacle comes from the East Javanese’s culture that still obsesses strict norms that usually descended from traditional religious practice. The norms view that women are improper to be active in politics and to be in a position to lead, and because of this, until now there are few Javanese women become a famous politician and do some real worthy actions in politics. The result of a research conducted by the Department of Research and Development of Republika supports this idea. This institution conducted a research on the aspiration of women that work as a member of parliament, particularly on their aspirations towards female empowerment.  The result shows that the number of female representatives in East Java’s Legislative body (DPRD Tk I) is far from the ideal condition. Female representatives only occupy 12% from the total seats in legislatives whereas in fact the number of female population is 57% from the total population of East Java. Ironically, though the percentage of female in parliament is so small, but many people still consider them play vital roles in the parliament.  People also consider them possessing the political access towards the regulation makers, and based on this access, many people believe, will bring many benefits to East Javanese women empowerment.

Unfortunately, the result of the research shows contradiction that the female representatives are not quite capable to perform this mandate. Even 36% from this female representatives doesn’t know United Nation’s convention towards female, and 41,3% from them doesn’t know that this convention has been ratified by Indonesian government. (darmanto.web.id)

This unpleasant condition of Javanese women lasts for years and luckily will not change until recently, especially when the election of governor East Java 2008 is held. The election results many interesting stories to study. One of them is the appearance of Khofifah, the female governor candidate. This figure is very conspicuous in the election of governor East Java 2008 since she is the only female candidate. This figure is so impressive that many people, as they compare Khofifah with other famous female politicians, put her as the real woman that is able to represent the whole best figure of women in East Java. And because of this consideration that she is able to represent East Javanese women, the word “woman” in the title of this article mostly discusses this figure.

The appearance of this female governor candidate at the first time raised controversies. One side supported her and the other one contradicted her. The pro’s side used the slogan emancipation, gender equality and “this is the time for woman to lead” as their main reason to support her, while the contra’s side used the classical reason ‘arrijaalu qowwamuuna a’lannisa’ that men are leaders of women as their ultimate reason. The two sides attacked each other in many forums and chances. Though there were many controversies arose in responding to her appearance, the controversies would not decrease the pro’s side’s spirit to support her to continue her designation to be the governor of East Java. The solid supports led Khofifah and her counterpart to obtain amazing number of votes. They obtained about 4.223.089 votes and these votes placed Khofifah to occupy the second position below another strong counterpart Karwo and Saifullah Yusuf. Karwo at the first round of the election surpassed Khofifah in a very slight range. He collected 4.498.332 votes (KPU Jatim.2008). At the second round of the election, this tight rivalry also occurred. Based on the result of the second counting of the ballots, done by East Java General Election Commission (KPU Jatim), from the total 15,39 millions votes, KarSa gained  7,72 millions votes or 50,19%, while Khofifah-Mudjiono or KaJi only lost in  a very slight range. KaJi obtained 7,66 millions votes or equal with 49,81%. (www.liputan6.com)

Whatever the result, whether KaJi won or lost the election, the appearance of Khofifah seemed to give a sort sign that the domination of men gradually lessen, and women could not be disparaged anymore. This phenomenon also provides the latest picture of East Java that in this province, the idea of emancipation and gender equality has been well known and widely accepted by the people there.

The big questions are; how could Khofifah obtain her huge success in the first and the second round of the election whereas she was a woman and was categorized as a new-comer-politician in East Java? What factors played roles in her success so that she could compete tightly with Soekarwo, the male candidate that is well known widely by East Javanese because of his important position as the Governor Secretary in the previous period of government? The answers vary. Yet, there are four possible factors that might answer the questions. It is because (1) Khofifah possesses dignity as an ex-Indonesian minister and holds a strong position in Nahdatul Ulama, the biggest Moslem organization in Indonesia, (2) she has a very powerful and solid political machine (she is supported by at least 12 political parties) (3) she has a uniqueness since she is the only female candidate in the election (4) she has very elegant political languages, and her language brings her to obtain her popularity.

Factor 1 and 2 are common factors that must be acquired by successful politicians or by politicians that are going to nominate themselves as a leader. And because that, the factors are not going to be discussed in this article. Factor 3 and 4 are factors that are rarely possessed by politicians, yet we cannot deny that these factors play vital roles to assist politicians to achieve success in political field. These two last factors are going to be discussed in this article.

Based on this background this article is written. In general, this article discusses the language and rhetoric used by the female candidate when she was participating in the governor election. The sequence of the discussion in this article comes in turn as follow: (a) introduction, (b) the roles of language in politics, and (c) political language used by woman in the election of governor of east Java 2008, and (d) conclusion

A. The roles of language in politics
During the latest governor election 2008, political languages appeared everywhere. The languages were used by the candidates to promote themselves to the society. The languages were intended to convince the voters about their good deeds. They became a very vital aid to expose the candidates’ vision and mission, and their superiority from other candidates. The languages were also used by the candidates to persuade the voters to vote them.

Political languages are different with other daily languages since they are constructed differently. Political languages are constructed in the form of jargons, slogans, classical-but-beautiful languages that contain full of persuasion. During the campaign, All candidates’ campaigning teams focus their attention on  similar issues, such as Corruption, Collusion, Nepotism (KKN), Human Right, and the awareness of poor people, yet they forget to give real explanations how they will overcome these issues.

Political languages are not only aimed to tell plans, visions, missions of the candidates, but they are also used to camouflage the candidates’ weaknesses. Each candidate knows how to talk nonsense without reducing their good image. And unfortunately, most East Javanese, that are commonly traditional, believe with what the candidate said. They are impressed by the beautiful languages produced by the candidates’ orators or candidates’ promotional team.

Political languages commonly appeared in orations, or in many discussions that the answers have been orchestrated. The governor candidates hide behind their language and do not want to give any statements that will threat their image and position. The languages are well prepared by the candidates’ campaigning team since they realize how powerful the language is. The candidates use good language since they want to be viewed as a good person. All candidates are seeking this good image because it plays a vital role during the campaigning sessions. This good image will increase their supporters. If the candidates give erroneous answers to reporters, the answers will became a blunder. Erroneous answers will raise disputes and controversies, and at the end, the disputes and controversies will smash candidates’s good image and of course their political track record and career. Because of this, the candidates must be able to avoid difficult questions that the answers need contemplation. Spontaneous answers in this crucial event are not a good idea to do. (Barnes, 2004).

There were also many acronyms and abbreviations appeared during the election. The acronyms and the abbreviations then transformed into political jargons. Unfortunately, not all of them understood by East Javanese. If the people often read newspapers or watched television, they would understand the jargons. But if they did not read and watched TV, surely they would not understand what the jargons mean. Those who did not understand the meaning of the jargons would behave apathetically. Acronyms like KarSa (Soekarwo and Saifullah Yusuf, SaLam (Soenarjo and Ali Maschan Moesa), AhSan (Achmady and Suhartono), KaJi (Khofifah Indar Parawansa  and Mudjiono), and abbreviation like SR (Sutjipto dan M. Ridwan Hisjam) were very famous during the election. These acronyms and abbreviation seemed ‘ear catching’ for the people who listened and read them. From the form of the acronyms, it was believed that the creator of the acronyms had designed them well before they were launched to public. Not only the acronyms looked ear catching, they also resembled the character that attached to the candidates. KarSa means effort, AhSan (Arabic language) means good thing, SaLam means safety or to give a greeting, and KaJi means to learn, or to study. The acronyms seemed to announce to public that the character, manner, and behavior of the candidates were suitable with the acronym.

Language is a power and politics is an art to gain power or to expand superiority. Politicians are supposed to control their language for vital reasons. Those who can control language, he or she will be able to gain power. We take for an example how Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) lost his power because of a language reason. He made a ‘language blunder’ by calling Indonesian Legislative Assembly (DPR) as a kindergarten. This statement was so irritated that made the members of parliament stood against him in an oppositional side. This language controversy led him to gain his downfall as a president.

While Gus Dur collapsed because of a language reason, a contradictive story happened to Khofifah. She gained her reputation because of the same thing. Her name was getting popular after she read her party’s political address towards the regulations issued by the New Order regime (ORBA) in a plenary session of Indonesian People Consultative Council (MPR) in 1998. Her speech was very monumental. That was the only speech that dared to criticize the New Order regime in a very formal occasion like in a plenary session. Because of her courage to use a severe language to criticize the new order regime, Khofifah gained her popularity as a very courageous female politician.  Since then, she has become a well-known female politician. (Jawa Pos, 18 May, 2008)

Language and power have a very strong relationship. Politicians who possess power will be able to control mass media. This ability to control mass media will direct the politicians to control language. (Barnes. 2004). Fairclough in his book ‘Language and Power’ published the result of his case study towards language and politics. In his findings, he explained that language is a very vital tool to establish a powerful solidarity among social groups. This powerful solidarity then can be directed to support certain parties (Fairclough 2003:201). A clear example can be seen easily in a political speech. Politicians are accustomed to use the word “we” to represent togetherness instead of other pronouns. (Fairclough 2003:204).

In the East Java 2008’s election, the vital roles of mass media were functioned well by KarSa’s counterpart. KarSa used news papers as a promotional aid. To do this, KarSa even had to spend extra money to expose their activities in a mini rubric named KomuniKarsa that was printed everyday in Jawa Pos. This sort of promotion was so attractive that no Jawa Pos’s reader, particularly who accustomed to read Mengejar Jatim I’s column, did not know who KarSa were. KarSa’s advantages using mass media once was reported  by Lembaga Kajian dan Survei Nusantara (Laksnu) and published in Jawa Pos dated 9 Oktober 2008. The report supported the idea that language and mass media played a very essential role in politics.

B. Political Language Used By Woman In The Election Of Governor Of East Java
It has been mentioned before that the word “Woman” that is going to discuss in this article refers to Khofifah, the female candidate of governor of East Java. Therefore, this part of this article discusses Khofifah as the representative of East Javanese Woman. The discussion focuses on the language and rhetoric used by Khofifah during her campaign, what makes her language and rhetoric different with other candidates’, particularly with her strongest competitor that is KarSa, what makes her political language and rhetoric in her campaign were impressed and appreciated by many people

From the writer’s literary study based on many publications in newspaper that published Khofifah and her political languages, the writer found at least 5 styles that differentiate Khofifah’s political language from others. The styles are: (1) Khofifah’s languages are filled with philanthropical sense (2) Khofifah’s languages put Khofifah in the inferior position not in the superior one (3) Khofifah’s languages dare to challenge the concept of majority-religious (4) Khofifah’s languages emphasizes more on expressive speech act then directives and commissives speech acts (5) Khofifah’s languages implement hypnosis language using associational pattern.

a. Philanthropy Language
The word philanthropy in Oxford dictionary means generous and charitable. In a complete definition, philanthropist means someone who posses a huge love feeling in his or her heart and is wiling to give his or her help, charity, peace, kindness, and money. Philanthropy

Language in this matter means a language that is filled with love, generosity and humanity. We can differentiate the political languages used by the candidates using this concept, that is: which language contains more philanthropical sense. As a comparison, we can take two political posters published at the same time and at the same place. The posters were published at Jawa Post, Sunday, 17 August 2008. In KarSa ‘s poster it is written Merdeka! Wujudkan Karsa Menuju Perubahan. (Freedom! Perform your effort to face changing). This slogan shows explicitly the spirit to do the so-called changing, the spirit that is likely only possessed by male. The slogan also indicates what KarSA wants, that is a sort of changing. They want to change something. The changing might be in the form of evolution, revolution, reformation, reconstruction and other changing.  Logically, the changing cannot be performed without sacrifices, claiming casualties, and without arising groups’ clash between the changers and the people who are changed. KaJi’s counterpart on the other hand focuses more on a peaceful aspect such as prosperousness and comfort. It can be seen from their slogan: Ka-Ji MANTEB, Makmur, Aman Tenteram Bersama: Mari Kita Wujudkan Jawa Timur Yang Makmur, Aman, Tenteram, Bersama (Manteb) Merdeka. (Ka-Ji MANTEB (Indonesian Acronym, M stands for Makmur or prosperity, A for Aman or peace, T for Tentram or pacification, B for Bersama or together with: Let’s work together to make East Java prosperous, peaceful, and pacific. Almost all words in this slogan contain love and peace. In KaJi’s websites, almost all titles of the articles or news posted there contain philanthropical language. The title of a news: ’Katakan ‘Perang’ pada Ketimpangan Sosial’ (declare wars for social imbalances) posted on Thursday, 24 April 2008, clearly implies that the article exposes much on the sense of loving each other. From this comparison we can take a conclusion that KaJi’s or Khofifah’s political languages are more “philanthropic” then KarSa’s or Karwo’s, and because of this, Khofifah could get more votes especially from peace lovers

b. Superiority and Inferiority
In her campaigns, particularly in written form campaign, Khofifah often put herself in an inferior position, whether she put herself as an inferior woman, or as a member of NU, the biggest Indonesian Moslem organization that has an inferior status in politics. It can be seen from her slogan that is filled with modesty: ’Saatnya wanita memimpin’ (this is the right time for a woman to lead). The slogan is aimed to declare an information that it has been so long female lives in a low position, and when the election comes, that is the time for women to increase their pride by choosing a leader that comes from their own (has the same sex).

Another slogan also shows her modesty such as ’Terimakasih NU, Kuusung Kader Terbaikmu’ (Thank you NU for trusting your best candidate to us). From the word thank you, here we can conclude that KaJi and their supporters feel deeply indebted to NU that has lent its best candidate (that is Khofifah) to join the election. From the word “Thank You” also we can see how KaJi really appreciate and respect NU. Their indebted feeling, appreciation and respect to NU show to us that the position of KaJi is inferior. No body will feel indebted if he or she is in the position of superior.

The slogan ’Kalau Bisa Jadi Gubernur, Kenapa Jadi Wakil’ (if we can be a governor, why should we be a vice governor), gives justification of the inferiority of Khofifah. The slogans seems to remind East Javanese, particularly NU’s members that until now, the toppest position for East Javanese women or NU’s members is only in the position of a vice governor, a position that is quite inferior if we compare with the grandeur of NU. This inferiority language is suitable with East Javanese culture that is filled with politeness, and undoubtedly East Javenese are fond of this kind of language. Because of that, the supports given to Khofifah are getting larger and larger
KarSa’s counterpart on the other hand tends to put themselves in the superior position. It is proven by their slogan: ’Coblos berengose’ (elect their moustache) that shows clearly masculinity and strength. Another example is in their slogan: “APBD untuk rakyat” (province budgets for people). This slogan is filled with the sense of governmental and bureaucracy or filled with the sense of doing instructions and responsibility. A sense that is filled with superiority.

c. The challenge towards the concept of majority-religious
Republika’s research shows the reason why there is only a small number of female representatives in DPRD Tk I, and one of the reasons is the cultural factor, such as the existence of the myth mentioning that political world belongs only to men, and the assumption that female are improper to hold a position to lead. The cultural factors also worsen by the lack confidence of female to compete in political world. This condition is commonly practiced and is descended from one generation to others, and it becomes descended behavior.

Khofifah, as the only female candidate breaks this culture. To prepare this action she must have strong reasons to support what she is doing. When she saw that the biggest obstacle came from cultural factor, cleverly, she made use the obstacle to support her action.  She then visited many pesantren (Islamic traditional boarding schools) the places where the obstacle usually appeared. She did this to promote herself and to gain a legitimacy of what she was doing and what she was going to seek, that was the governor’s position. She had to obtain the legitimacy from kyai (Islamic religious leader) that female were not forbidden to be a province leader. She worked so hard to achieve this goal and she was successful.  She got the supports and the legitimacy The legitimacy was so important for her that soon after she got the legitimacy, she directly published it in newspapers, her websites, and many banners and posters. She distributed the banners and posters to many districts in East Java. The banner and posters were written: Islam Tidak Melarang Wanita Menjadi Pemimpin (Islam doesn’t forbid female to be a leader) or Tidak Ada Larangan Wanita Memimpin. (Thare is no prohibition for female to be a leader). Her courage to challenge the traditional concept of leadership that marginalized female led her to gain many sympathies. And because of these she got more votes on the first and the second round of the election

d. Directives vs Expressives
The term Directives and Expressives come from Searle’s (1976) and Reise’s (1985) ideas about a typology of speech acts. Searle and Reise divided speech acts and put them into five types that are: Representatives, Directives, Commissives, Expressives, dan Declarations. (Searle dan Reis in Damayanti, 2008:110). Among those five speech acts, Directives, Commissives dan Expressives types of speech acts are commonly used by  candidates during the election.

Directives are speech acts that are attempts by the speaker to get the addresee to do something. KarSa’s counterpart tend to use these speech acts. The slogan “Coblos Berengose” (elect their moustache) is the clear example of these. The word “Coblos” or elect has imperative meanings that fuction to make someone to do something that is to elect the moustache.

Commissive are different with Directives. Commissives are speech acts that commit to some future course of action. KarSa’s counterpart also tend to use these speech acts. The slogan “APBD Untuk Rakyat” (Province Budgets for People) gives a very strong impresions that Karwo has promissed to allocate the whole East Java’s budgets only for people.
Expressives speech acts on the other hand tend to be used by KaJi. Expressives in this matter express a psychological state that is showed in thanking expressions, congratulating, apologizing, greeting, and complementing. The Slogan ’Terimakasih NU, Kuusung Kader Terbaikmu’ (Thank you NU for trusting your best candidate to us) gives a clear example of these speech acts.

In common sense, accepting apology from someone, or receiving gereting and compliment are more favorable than receiving instructions or listening promises. From this common picture we can conclude that KaJi’s speech acts please more people’s heart  than KarSa’s speech scts, and because of that, it can increase the votes for Khofifah

e. Hypnotic Language With Associational Pattern
Hypnotic Language Patterns are oftenly used by hypnotists and hypnotherapists. This is the device that is used by the hypnotists so that they can communicate with peoples’ uncousious world. The pattern of this language is ambiguous, floating and makes the listener curious and wants to find out what are behind the massage. This is the purpose of using this language. The process of searching meaning in people’s thought is sometimes called Transderivational Search. (Isman, 2008)

Mohammad Isman explains that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono-Jusuf Kalla (SBY-JK), and Barrack Obama,  also used this language pattern. The pattern that was used by SBY–JK and Barrack Obama in their campaign has a similarity, that is; they used the so called ‘modal’ operator. The popular slogan of SBY–JK : ”Bersama Kita Bisa!” (Together we can) and also Barrack Obama: ”Yes!, We Can” has a similarity. Both use the word “Bisa” or in Englis “Can”, as an operator, and makes people began asking themseves can what? What can we do? From this word then appear various answers that the aswers have their own reasons and versions. And because they are curious to find the answer at last, they are hypnotyzed. (Isman, 2008)

There are many Hypnotic Language Patterns. But not all are used in many political campaigns in Indonesia. Only three patterns that are commonly used during political campaigns. Those are Hypnotic Language using “operators”, ambiguity pattern, and the last using  associational pattern. Khofifah used the last pattern to support her political campaign. Mohammad Isman takes an example in the case of Dada Rosada dan Ayi Vivananda. Isman quotes the campaign language of Dada Rosada: ”Persib harus juara… Persib harus No. 1” and states that the aim of making this statement  is to bring the candidate number 1 (Dada Rosada dan Ayi Vivananda) close to the 99 % beliefs of Bandung people, that is: ”Persib (Bandung football team) must be champion and be number 1”. (Isman, 2008)

KaJi, similar with Dada Rosada dan Ayi Vivanda, used this pattern to attract people’s attention to support them and to elect them in the election. KaJi’s campaign poster published in Radar Madura dated 30 October 2008, explains in detail this matter. It is written “Pilih Kaji Sama Dengan Pilih Mega.” (electing Khofifah is similar with electing Megawati (the former president of Indonesia)). The sentence seems to  bring Khofifah close to the beliefs of megawati’s supporter that megawati must win the Indonesian general 2009-20014 periode, and because of that, Khofifah must win the election too and becomes the governor of East Java. The sentense also pictures that Khofifah’s image resembles Megawati. The official website of this candidate also uses this language pattern. It can be seen from it’s article entitled “Melampaui Pemikiran Kartini” (Surpass the Kartini’s thought). We can see that this article wants to give a positive impression to Khofifah that she is similar or equal with Kartini, a very famous heroen with a very complete character: the mixture between smartness and acceptability by everyone (www.KA-JIManteb.com). Not only similar, the word “melampaui” or surpass here seems to give an impression that Khofifah possesses something that makes her better from Kartini. And because Khofifah is viewed better than Kartini, the impression that raises from this sentence is: Khofifah is better from the best.

Hypnotic Language that is used by Khofifah led Khofifah to collect more votes. And because of the votes, Khofifah was able to continue her steps to the second round of the election, and that means Khofifah is getting closer to governor’s position.

Having had a literary study on the political languages used by Khofifah and other candidates in the election of governor of East Java, the study finds that the languages used by Khofifah and her counterpart are not similar with the languages used by other candidates. There are five special characters that make Khofifah’s political language different with other candidates’,  These differences bring benefit to Khofifah since she can obtain more votes. Those characters are (1) Khofifah’s languages are filled with philanthropical sense (2)

Khofifah’s languages put Khofifah in the inferior position not in the superior one (3) Khofifah’s languages dare to challenge the concept of majority-religious (4) Khofifah’s languages emphasizes more on expressive speech act then directives and commissives speech acts (5) Khofifah’s languages implement hypnotical language using associational pattern.

The success story achieved by Khofifah in the election of governor of East Java actually can be used as an inspiration by female who want to follow her step and can be used to encourage female politicians by telling them an awesome message that although they are female, they are still able to achieve success, as long as they know the correct ways. And one of the ways is by controlling language and mass media


Rahardjo, Mudjia. Relung-relung bahasa: Bahasa dalam wacana politik Indonesia Kontemporer. Aditya Media, 2002.

dirmanto.web.id. Wanita “Masa Kini” Dalam Politik. Accesed on 19 December 2008

Barnes, Melanie, 2004. Bahasa Dan Politik: Wacana Politik Dan Plesetan. Artikel ACICIS Australian Consortium For In-Country Indonesian Students bekerjasama dengan UMM

Pidato Monumental yang Menohok Orde Baru. Jawa Pos: Sunday, 18 May 2008

Jawa POS. Karsa unggul Sosialisasi, Kaji Menang Popularitas. Jawa Pos 9Oktober 2008

Jawa Pos, Minggu 17 Agustus 2008

muhammadisman. Blogspot.com. Pola Bahasa Hypnosis dan Kampanye Politik. posted on 18 November 2008

Radar Madura dated 30 Oktober 2008

http://www.KA-JIManteb.com. Melampaui Pemikiran Kartini. Accessed on 15
December 2008

Damayanti, Lestari, Ika. 2008. The Analysis of Speech Acts on Gender Construction in Dialoges Presented in English Textbooks for Primary  School Students in Indonesia. Proceeding. International Conference on  Applied Linguistics

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