The magnitude of the upcoming 2024 Election in Indonesia cannot be understated.
Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, will hold the biggest one-day election on the planet next year.
More than 200 million voters in Indonesia and nearly two million members of the Indonesian diaspora will go to the polls on February 14, 2024 in order to elect the country’s next President and Vice President, as well as legislators and councillors at both national and regional levels.
This will be only the second time Indonesia has held presidential and legislative elections at the same time, following the initial occurrence of this so-called ‘grand celebration of democracy’ in the 2019 Election.
The legislative elections will consist of votes to the national-level council and to the House of Representatives as well as to regional legislative bodies.
Spread across 514 regencies/municipalities, 7,277 districts, 83,860 villages/sub-districtss and 823,287 TPS/TPS LN/KSK/Post - and with a total of eighteen political parties contesting the election nationwide - the Government is making stringent efforts to increase the level of engagement in the democratic process and to stimulate voter turnout.
However, the spread of propaganda and disinformation in the dominant social media channels is already taking hold as the 2024 Election begins to gather pace. Given the scale of the upcoming poll and the lack of content moderation pervasive platforms such as TikTok, the impact of this activity could well be highly significant. The election may thus become dominated by the challenge of containing rampant anti-democratic influences.
And for the first time, polling day will occur during the country’s rainy season. In turn, this phenomenon could bring tough logistical challenges in certain parts of Indonesia, as heavy rains can easily trigger floods and landslides. In turn this factor may well inhibit the rate of voter turnout.
The Presidential candidates are shifting into ‘high-gear’ mode
Against a late-breaking backdrop of political drama culminating in a contentious Court ruling, the addition of Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto and running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka as the third Presidential pairing in next February’s election has rounded up what political commentators expect to be a highly-contested ‘three-horse race’. All political analysts and commentators are anticipating the need for a run-off.
The Prabowo-Gibran team will compete for Indonesia’s top office next year against Ganjar Pranowo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and running mate Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, as well as ex-Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and his running mate - National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar.
Current opinion polls are showing that Prabowo and Gibran are the combination to beat in the national election, although the Ganjar-Mahfud pairing remain in a competitive second position, with the Anies-Muhaimin team currently trailing in third spot. However, the dynamics of the campaign process in Indonesia mean that voter sentiment can shift dramatically as events unfold.
Following the recently-completed registration process, the initial public pronouncements from each camp has set out their respective campaign platforms.
In his inaugural speech as a VP candidate, Gibran intimated that their campaign would hinge on economic incentives for different social groups, including an endowment fund for Islamic boarding schools, loans for ‘millennial-owned start-ups’ and incentives for the elderly, as well as for pregnant women.
By comparison, the Ganjar-Mahfud pair is running on a platform of equality, welfare and clean governance, while also seeking to advance science and establish a national digital ecosystem. The Anies-Muhaimin platform, on the other hand, is doubling down on equitable economic growth and sustainability.
The key ‘battleground’ issues are becoming clear
Much of the attention in the run-in to the 2024 Election campaign has been centred on which presidential pairing will have the competitive advantage in East Java, the country’s second-largest province. Home to some 41 million Indonesians, the region is considered to be a stronghold of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country’s largest Muslim organization.
The latest survey from Indikator Politik Indonesia, which polled 1,810 people across East Java from in September 2023, found that 79 percent of its Muslim respondents identified themselves as members of NU.
Close to half of the respondents who aligned themselves with NU also said that their presidential preferences could be swayed if NU was to publicly endorse a presidential candidate.
And with citizens aged 40 and under expected to make up the majority of voters (circa 52%) in the 2024 general elections, political parties and presidential hopefuls alike are compelled to compete for the attention of a demographic group that is generally perceived to both apathetic and sceptical about politics.
Reaching out to first-time voters and university/college students - who incline towards ‘group-think’ shaped by their closely-knit peer groups - is likely to be a core program for each of the candidate teams.
Reflecting this dynamic, each candidate team has embraced the principle of ‘Politik Gembira’ (‘Happy Politics’) ahead of the 2024 Election season - with a view to promoting a harmonious contest and making authentic connections with the younger segments of the voter base.
This approach will be characterized by a more light-hearted tone and style to campaign execution – including on-campus events, interactive online podcasts and the creation of dynamic media content.
A recurring theme from this demographic group is the concern over the job market, regardless of their respective political and candidate preferences.
‘Opportunities for work’ is the most pressing issue that they would expect presidential aspirants to address, with attention to job creation still being under-represented in the electoral discourse among presidential candidates and political parties.
We cover all of the above issues - and more! - in depth as part of the report pack available here.
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