This article uses social network analysis of online contestation on Twitter from September 2018 to April 2019 to reveal how netizens’ engagement in election de-bates is polarized by the politics of hashtags. This study finds that hashtags are operated to construct dichotomist debate focusing on both presidential candi-dates’ figure. This finding indicates: first, the weak position of citizens in deliberat-ing public issues; second, the ineffectiveness of social media, especially Twitter as an online forum for articulating public issues; and third, online influencers, who create and propagate hashtags, play a strategic role in deliberating public issues. Strengthening the role of social media needs to be combined with contemporary citizenship political strategies that can extend access for civil society and online influencers to play an active role in articulating public issues more argumentative-ly.
Keywords: politics of hashtags, contestation, presidential election, discourse, so-cial network analysis, citizenship.