In this webinar, the invited speakers shared their opinions on current youth’s participation in politics and discussed how new generation political parties could capture the attention of young new voters in the upcoming 2024 General Elections.
INDONESIA STUDIES PROGRAMME WEBINAR
Monday, 11 October 2021 – ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute invited Ms Tsamara Amany Alatas (member of the Executive Board of the Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI)), Ms Kristina Viri (member of the National Presidium for Indonesia Green Party (PHI)) and Ms Aisah Putri Budiatri (Researcher in the Center for Political Research, Indonesia’s National Research, and Innovation Agency (BRIN)) to speak in a webinar titled, “Youth Participation and a New Generation Political party in Indonesia Politics”. Moderated by Mr Made Supriatma (Visiting Fellow of Indonesia Studies Programme, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute), the speakers discussed on youths’ attitude toward politics, their interests as new voters and the effects of new generation political parties in changing the political situation for the upcoming 2024 General Elections in Indonesia.
Ms Tsamara Amany Alatas kicked start the webinar by evaluating the progress of PSI, as a new political party during the 2019 General Elections. She first pointed out key challenges faced by the party, especially during the initial years of its formation where the party had to focus on fulfilling verification criteria in order to compete in the elections. This included having representatives in all provinces, with at least 75% in districts and 50% in sub-districts as well as having 1000 members in each district where the party was being represented. This verification process would continue to be the party’s main challenge as they would have to undergo the same process again in the coming elections due to not meeting the 4% parliamentary threshold in the 2019 election. Apart from that, Ms Alatas elaborated on how recruitment into the political party has been difficult due to the negative impression of being associated with a political party in Indonesia. She also highlighted the challenge in fundraising for campaigns, whereby the party took about 4 years to achieve the capital needed to fund campaign materials such as TV advertisements during the 2019 elections. Nonetheless, despite the lower popularity and outreach as compared to other political parties, PSI was still able to garner 2.65 million votes (1.89%) during the 2019 elections, even though it is not within the threshold mark. Ms Alatas attributed this significant number of votes to the party’s focus in supporting anti-discrimination laws and providing a voice for the minority groups. That being said, she acknowledged that the demographics of voters is changing, with millennials taking up most of the proportion of new voters in the upcoming elections. These young voters are also facing new challenges due to the pandemic which give rise to new expectations toward political parties. PSI would therefore be focusing on two new objectives, pushing forth quality education and creating available job opportunities for the younger generation. Ms Alatas also highlighted the need to build a coalition between the urban middle class with grassroots organisations so that it can help to bridge the gap and balance the needs of both social classes. She believed that the party is gaining strength and would be able to fulfil the 4% parliamentary threshold by the 2024 General Elections, especially with a longer preparation runway and the experience that they gained during the 2019 elections.
Ms Kristina Viri started off her presentation by introducing her party’s key objectives. It is centred around three issues (1) Democracy Regression (2) Climate & Ecological Crisis (3) Weakening of Corruption Eradication. She proceeded to elaborate in detail on what her party aims to achieve in regard to each identified issue. Starting with democracy, her party aims to reduce the decline in the quality of democratic institutions and maintains public spaces for protest and criticism. Ms Viri also believed that there is an urgent need to look through the policies for climate actions as more people are being affected by climate disasters in recent years. Apart from that, strengthening corruption eradication is another objective of her party where they aim to examine deep-rooted corruption within the government and extractive industries, looking primarily on the prevalence of oligarchy within the parliament. Ms Viri believed that having an alternative political power is necessary as it can provide an alternative electoral channel to conduct checks and orders for the existing political party. She believed that with the new generation of millennial voters, there is a need to increase their existing political education so that they can effectively exercise their votes in the upcoming elections. This was said in view that there is an increasing sentiment from the youths that they would be abstaining from voting in the upcoming elections. Ms Viri, therefore, hoped that PHI could become the political party that can bring about permanent changes based on ethics. She believed her party would remain committed in fulfilling their objectives once elected to the parliament.
Ms Aisah Putri Budiatri began the third presentation with her identified definition of youth, primarily focusing on individuals that are aged within 16 to 30 years old. Demographic data from the 2019 General Elections had shown that youth voters take up most of the voters’ proportion in 2019 and this trend would most likely remain the same for the upcoming 2024 elections. This is significant as youths are now, not only key voters who could determine the outcome of the elections, they are also potential candidates in the upcoming elections. Apart from that, this age group also experienced greater problems, exacerbated by the pandemic. This included problems such as low education and literacy rate, lack of personal health insurance, youth poverty and high exposure to crime-related issues. Despite being the largest proportion of Indonesia’s population, youths are underrepresented in the parliament, with only 12% of the members being young ministers (MPs) in the national parliament. Ms Budiatri believed that there is a need to have a cultural shift to focus on youths related matters within the government and to have more active involvement of young people in politics.
Ms Budiatri also highlighted some challenges faced by new generation political parties. Through her research, she found out that most young voters already have a preference on who they would like to vote for in the coming elections. PDIP and Gerinda are currently the preferred choices for most young voters, primarily due to the fact that these parties already possess youth wing organisations that have strong networks with various youth organisations. New generation political parties would need to establish a reliable working record that prioritises the interests of young people. This is mainly because existing parties are still viewing youths as potential voters and not putting them as their focus for political changes. New generation parties should therefore focus on this aspect in order to compete with these existing parties. This would aid in increasing their standing against pre-existing political parties and attract more young voters in the coming elections.
The webinar drew an audience of 57 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 readiness of Indonesia in accepting a green party, the funding background for new generation political parties, rural-urban differentiation for youths’ voting trends and political preferences, employment concerns among young voters, the idea of using personalities driven political methods to attract voters as well as the usage of social media for further publicity in the next election.