Webinar: Youth Political Participation and Information Technology
Indonesian young adults, people ranging from 17 to 25 years old, comprised almost 30% of the total voters in the List of Final Voters compiled by Indonesia’s General Election Commission/KPU (Rahmawati, 2014). Having been exposed to a more politically open electoral system following the fall of Suharto’s regime, the group, also known as Generation Y, tends to be change-seeking, better informed, mobile, savvy and connected (Chen & Syailendra, 2014). However, a study by Kompas (2014) suggests young adults in Indonesia are also politically apathetic and less nationalistic where more than 53% considered not casting their vote in the 2014 elections.
A study on Indonesian young voters published in 2018 suggests young voters’ capacity to participate in democracy and to shape the society in future may be limited as respondents display a relatively low accuracy in political knowledge. It also finds a gender gap in political knowledge among male and female participants, although the difference is not too significant. Regarding political preferences in electing a legislative candidate, the vast majority of respondents in this study offer support to male aspirants. They judge men as being more suitable to work as lawmakers by citing some religious justification and based on the assumption that men can work outside the house with a higher degree of freedom compared to women. Most respondents were applying gender stereotypes rather than actual political knowledge in comparing male and female politicians’ capabilities in representing constituents. Conversely, participants who prefer female candidates assert more women need to be in parliament to produce better policies and to ensure women’s and children’s interests are well served.
Drawing on these developments on young people’s political participation, the Center for Citizenship and Human Rights Studies CCHRS) at UPN Veteran Jakarta (UPNVJ), YouthProactive, and Rumah Kebijakan Rakyat organised a webinar forum on “Youth Political Participation and Information Technology” on February 4, 2020. Two speakers presenting their research and experience regarding Indonesia’s youth political participation: Dr Ella S. Prihatini (IR Binus University) and Ramadhanti (Creative Hub UGM).
“Indonesian youth should never underestimate their contribution in politics as we need to work together in ensuring decision making processes being inclusive, representative, and transparent,” said Dr Prihatini who is also a Faculty Member in IR Department at Binus University. Her research on young voters indicates the connection between political knowledge and political participation, “Hence, it is important to improve political knowledge in order to increase their participation.”
As the second speaker, Ramadhanty elaborates the challenges for young people to participate in politics. One of the most notable obstacles is ITE Law that limits political expressions in social media platforms.
The recording of the event is made available on YouTube.
Chen, J., & Syailendra, E. A. (2014). Old society, new youths: An overview of youth and popular participation in post-reformasi Indonesia. Retrieved from https://dr.ntu.edu.sg/handle/10220/19846.
Kompas.com (2014, April 4). Skeptis pada Parpol, Mayoritas Pemilih Muda Berpotensi Golput [Skeptics on political parties, majority of young electors potentially going abstain]. Retrieved from http://nasional.kompas.com/read/2014/04/04/1513405/Skeptis.pada.Parpol.Mayoritas.Pemilih.Muda.Berpotensi.Golput.
Prihatini, E. S. (2018, September). Indonesian young voters: Political knowledge and electing women into parliament. In Women’s Studies International Forum (Vol. 70, pp. 46-52). Pergamon.
Rahmawati, I. (2014). Social media, politics, and young adults: The impact of social media use on young adults’ political efficacy, political knowledge, and political participation towards 2014 Indonesia General Election (Master) Faculty of Behavioral Science Communication Studies Media and Communication. Retrieved from http://essay.utwente.nl/65694/.