There are 106 million Indonesians aged between 17 and 40, representing 52 percent of the eligible voters in the country. Support of youth voters is therefore crucial for candidates who are competing in the February 14 general election.
Indeed, many candidates tried to capture the youth vote during the campaign period by actively using social media platforms to interact with young internet users. Some even adopted Korean pop culture themes in their campaign materials to reach Indonesian K-pop fans.
Justin Wejak, a lecturer with the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne, noted the role and potential of young people in deciding the election results.
But Petir Garda Bhwana, editor of the news website Tempo, highlighted the key issues facing the youth that prevent them from realizing their full potential as major drivers of change in the country.
During the campaign period, young voters shared their perspectives in several media interviews and public events.
Bobby Hidayat, 22 years old, told Channel News Asia about the difficulty of choosing who to vote for as president.
He added that he is collecting more information about candidates rather than relying on the preferences of those close to him.
During a discussion at the Universitas Gadjah Mada, law student Linda Kristiani Sianturi expressed concern that most news coverage is focused on the presidential candidates rather than on the legislative election.
During the same event, 22-year-old philosophy student Laksito Lintang has a proposal concerning education and employment.
Rayhan, a 24-year-old small business owner and youth activist, told Jakarta Globe about the need for candidates to address economic concerns and the rule of law.
Ginanjar Ariyasuta, a 24-year-old environmental advocate from climate campaign group 350, challenged candidates to prioritize renewable energy.
Titi Anggraini of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) encouraged young voters to become election officials to minimize incidents of electoral fraud like the practice of buying and selling votes and changing election results at the district level.
Young Indonesians have also launched initiatives aimed at providing information and education to voters. One example is Bijak Memilih, a platform where internet users can find credible information about political party programs and perspectives on key public issues. Former environmental economist Andhyta “Afu” Firselly Utami, who co-initiated Bijak Memilih, mentioned in a TEDx talk about the importance of voters’ education. A summary of her talk:
Mong Palatino is an activist and former two-term member of the Philippine House of Representatives. Blogging since 2004 at mongster’s nest, he joined Global Voices in 2006.
This article was first published by Global Voices.