Webinar on “Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Indonesia: Association Between Vaccination and Voting Patterns in 2019 Presidential Election”

In this webinar, Mr Takayuki Higashikata shared his analysis of the correlation between voting behaviours and vaccine hesitancy in Indonesia. He found that the level of trust in government, in the form of votes for the incumbent President Joko Widodo in the 2019 presidential election, might influence the vaccine hesitancy in the country, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and 2022.


Friday, 15 July 2022 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute hosted Mr Takayuki Higashikata (Resident Associate Fellow in the Indonesian Studies Programme, ISEAS) to speak in a webinar titled “Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in Indonesia: Association Between Vaccination and Voting Patterns in 2019 Presidential Election”. Moderated by Dr Siwage Dharma Negara (Senior Fellow & Co-coordinator, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute), the speaker discussed the background of the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Indonesia, focusing on the role of trust in the government in influencing key regions’ vaccines uptake rate. Mr Higashikata’s research used Indonesia’s district-level aggregate data to see the correlation between the vaccination rate and the vote margin of the incumbent President Joko Widodo in the last election.

Mr Takayuki Higashikata shared his research findings and elaborated on how voting margins for the incumbent president in the 2019 presidential elections were closely associated with vaccine hesitancy in Indonesia. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Mr Takayuki Higashikata began his presentation by listing his research’s motivations, highlighting that despite Indonesia’s early implementation of its vaccination programme as compared to most countries in Southeast Asia, it had not reached its desirable proportion of vaccinated people within the country. His research also found that as much as supply-side factors such as population and vast territory could affect vaccination rate, demand-side factors such as willingness to take the vaccines may have more relevance toward some regions’ vaccination uptake rate. He also drew reference to the United States where vaccine hesitancy was found to be closely associated with people’s political preferences (Trump’s vs Biden’s supporters). Looking at that aspect, Mr Higashikata’s research attempted to investigate whether Indonesians’ support for the current government could have influenced their willingness to take up the COVID-19 vaccines. His research would look primarily at the incumbent president, President Jokowi’s regional vote margin in the 2019 presidential elections as an indicator of local level trust toward the government and how it is related to vaccination coverage within regions. 

Designed as a quantitative research analysis, Mr Higashikata investigated the correlation between the vote margins in the 2019 presidential elections with the ratio of the population with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination. Using regional vaccination data from March 2021 to June 2022, positive and statistically significant correlations were observed, with areas having a lower vote margin displaying smaller vaccination coverage. Mr Higashikata also elaborated his methodology, stating that he had excluded some regions of Papua & Papua Barat as these regions continued practices of Noken where tribal chiefs represent the voice of the community. This could influence the results as this investigation looked primarily at individuals’ choices of taking the COVID-19 vaccines. He also employed the Ordinary Linear Regression model (OLS) to evaluate the statistical significance of the positive relations observed with some identified control variables. Some control variables included population, area, immunization rate, poverty rate, urban population, the proportion of the population with higher education as well as the share of Muslim living within the regions. Regression results showed consistent results where the coefficient of President Jokowi’s vote margins was positive and significant throughout four-time points of investigation. Patterns observed for other control variables also reflected similar patterns with existing literature, indicating that the results of this model were consistent. As such, Mr Higashikata concluded that there was a significant association between the COVID-19 vaccination ratio and President Jokowi’s vote margin in the 2019 presidential elections, highlighting the possibility that the level of trust in the government could influence the extent of hesitation in receiving the vaccines.

The webinar drew an audience of 35 participants from both Singapore and abroad. The panel then discussed a range of topics during the Question-and-Answer segment, which included topics such as the inclusion of fatality rate as a control variable in the model, possible reasons as to why there is a decreasing influence of the variable ‘share of the Muslim population’ toward vaccination rate, the possibility of including different religious groups and type of vaccines into the next modelling’s methodology, the consideration of other regression models apart from ordinary regression model (OLS), the time sequence of vaccine availability in Indonesia as a possible influence toward vaccination uptake rate and whether this observed lasting effect of trust toward the government could influence the next presidential elections in 2024. 

(Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)