Will youth decide Indonesia's 2024 elections?

Jakarta- In a country where the youth element is dominant, such as Indonesia, election campaigns on February 14 almost revolve around this group in order to attract them and persuade them to vote for this or that candidate , and candidates use all means to reach youth and in ways that appeal to them.

According to the Election Commission, Indonesia has a population of 273 million and approximately 205 million are entitled to vote, of which 56% of voters are youth.

The Commission defines the youth segment as consisting of the “Millennials” generation (31–40 years), making up 33.3% of the electorate, and “Generation Z” (17–30 years), making up about 24.1%.

In a country where these two generations represent more than half of the electorate, the ages of the candidates vary; Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and former provincial governors Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo range in age from 54 to 72, leaving the only young element is Gibrin Rakabuming Raka (35 years old), who is running for vice president along with Prabowo Subianto. Who is the son of current President Jokowi.

From Candida Ganjar Prano Festival, it presents dance and singing that attracts youth - Al Jazeera
Candida Ganjar from the Prano Festival, presents what young people like in terms of dancing and singing (Al Jazeera)

active social communication

Digital research company Publix revealed that Generation Z voters place high expectations on candidates' speeches, while Millennials think more realistically and are skeptical about election campaign speeches.

Publix said in a study conducted from August 31 to September 12, 2023 about the elections that the majority of Indonesian youth (13-24 years old) rely on social media as the main source of election information.

That is why all three presidential candidates, as well as parliamentary candidates, focus on reaching out to this group and addressing it in ways and means that appeal to them. Each of them actively participates in large-scale campaigns on TikTok and Instagram to influence the voice of this generation.

Digital Indonesia Foundation figures for 2023 show that 167 million citizens are active on social media platforms, up from 212 million internet users at the beginning of the same year.

In detail, Instagram has 184 million and Facebook has 178 million Indonesian users, while TikTok has 126 million users, but it is continuously growing.

For example, after the first vice presidential debate last month, clips of the broadcast were viewed 300 million times on TikTok within 12 hours.

Following this month's second presidential debate, white-haired presidential candidate Branau appeared live on TikTok wearing a green military jacket, imitating Tom Cruise in his movie (Top Gun).

Videos of 72-year-old candidate Subianto dancing have also swept Indonesia's social media accounts, transforming his image from a retired general who was dogged by allegations of human rights abuses in the late 1990s, to a “lovely As for “Dada”, as young people like to call him.

According to Publix, leadership qualities, clear vision and agreeableness are among the favorite characteristics of young voters in Indonesia. This makes social media campaigns especially important in this election race.

Regarding specific policies, 83% of survey participants called on the government to create more job opportunities, about 76% expected to improve educational opportunities to help achieve job security, and 72% expected the government to create more job opportunities. Called for more effective policies to curb corruption.

While many young people express their concerns about Indonesian national identity, the influence of culture from the West, China and more recently Korea has led to its erosion in some aspects.

cautious optimism

Al Jazeera Net polled Indonesian youth about their views on election programs and their realism, and what they demand from the next elected president.

State Islamic University student Iman Abdul Rahman, 23, hopes the president-elect will be honest in carrying out his responsibilities, “and will not put his personal interests ahead of the interests of the nation to ensure a better situation.” future for an ethnically and religiously diverse Indonesia, and he will be able to eliminate the favoritism, bribery and corruption that have plagued the country for decades.

As for Azam Zindan Noor, 24, an Asian University student in Malaysia who returned to take part in the elections, he said, “We are exercising our right to vote for the first time, and we hope that the next time the President of the country We will properly reconstruct democratic life in India.”

Noor explains by saying, “This can be achieved by restoring the dignity of the citizen, as that is the basis of democratic life, not financial and political influence, and the freedom of the citizen to express his opinions and criticize the government. To counter the violations as they destroy democratic life. And to be able to improve the economic, educational and health conditions of citizens, so that we can walk together towards the golden time of Indonesia in 2045.

While Firas Anwar Maulana (24 years), who works as a teacher in a private school, is optimistic that the presidential candidates have the ability to deliver on the positive promises made in the election campaigns.

On what he wants from the next President, he says, “We hope that we will focus on the poor class, which is widespread in the society, ensuring stability in fuel prices, reducing the unemployment rate and supporting the younger generation and He is expected to focus on people.” Participation in decision making in an appropriate manner.”

Hirana Nugraha (22 years), a teacher at a private school, also called for the involvement of the younger generation, especially since few candidates rely on this generation. “As young people, we have aspirations that our country be stable and safe. Our country matters to us as much as it matters to the government and state institutions, and we have the right to participate appropriately in the development of our country along with the government.”

Presidential and vice-presidential candidates Anis Baswedan (left) and Muhaymin Iskandar during an election campaign in Jakarta (Anatolia)

concern for young life

Indonesian youth are experiencing immense pressure and anxiety to meet the necessities of a decent life in the face of high prices and the falling value of the rupiah.

With the beginning of the era of new democratic rule in 1998, the per capita poverty line per month was around Rs 42,000 (about $4.5), but today, according to the 2023 census, the per capita poverty line has increased to Rs 550,458 (about 35 dollars). This is a burden on youth who start their working life in the face of declining job opportunities and income.

Ayesha Putri Budiyarthi, a researcher at the National Research Agency, believes that “youth have an influential and important role in elections, so candidates focus on addressing them, and this is evident in these elections compared to previous elections. , because there are more of them.” More than half the voting block.”

He said in his interview with Al Jazeera Net, “Of course, young people are influenced by the electoral campaign strategy of the candidates, and the most influential sphere and means in this area are the social media platforms in which the youth sector is active. Therefore, the successful candidates He is the one who can reach out to young people and make them understand his program, especially as it relates to them and their future.” “They are more aware than older generations.”

Regarding the issues that concern young people in election campaigns, Budhyarthi says, “According to several recent studies from opinion polling centres, what concerns young people most is the availability of job opportunities. They are in productive age or so. Gonna do.” Like university students, and then they are concerned about the economic programs of the candidates to ensure a stable future. “For their current or future families, the importance of health insurance and health services in the country comes into play.”

People walk past mascots depicting Indonesian presidential candidate and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto (left) and vice presidential candidate Gibran Rakabuming Raka during their election campaign event at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta on February 5, 2024.  (Photo by Adec Berry/AFP)
Portraits of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and vice-presidential candidate Gibrin Rakabuming Raka during an election event (French)

surface culture

Muhammad Saleh, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says, “I am not sure that youth will have a significant role in determining the direction of these elections, even though more than half of the voters are in this category, because most of them are politically educated. They don't, and they have very little political awareness.” It comes from social media platforms, and these don't provide real political culture as much as they are entertainment.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Saleh confirmed that it is wrong to consider the nomination of President Jokowi's son Gibran as Vice President as a victory for the youth as he was not selected because he is a young man (35 years old), Rather because he is the son of the President, and this does not indicate interest in the youth component.

Regarding the factors that influence young people's choices when voting, Saleh says, according to studies conducted by polling stations investigating the matter, 37% of them are influenced by the people around them and their beliefs. and 32% are influenced by the candidate's digital footprint. or his presence and activity on the platforms, and finally 29.6% of them are influenced by pictures and banners scattered on the streets.

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