Targeting millennials in Indonesias 2019 presidential election

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian millennial generation is a determining factor in the simultaneous presidential and legislative elections to be organized on April 17, 2019, as they account for some 35 percent to 40 percent of the total illegible voters.

Of its total population of 260 million people, over 185 million are registered as illegible voters throughout Indonesia and more than two million Indonesians live overseas.

Of the total 187 million voters, some 70 million are millennials, who are known as Generation Y. Their ages are between 17 years old and 35 years old as they were born between 1980s and 2000s. Seventeen-year-old boys and girls are first time voters in Indonesia.

The participation of millennials in elections is crucial for the promotion of democracy in the country, given their large number.

Therefore, the National General Election Committee (KPU) has designed various activities to attract them to take part in elections. The activities include programs dubbed “KPU Goes To Campus” and “KPU Goes to School.”

The 2019 presidential election is considered by many as a repeat of the bitter 2014 presidential race, wherein incumbent President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Prabowo Subianto are again set to go head-to-head.

Seeking a second term, 57-year-old Jokowi has picked Maruf Amin (75), chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), as his partner, while retired general Subianto (67) has chosen Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno (49), a successful entrepreneur and former deputy governor of Jakarta, as his running mate.

Both candidate pairs are optimistic of winning the support of the millennial generation. They have strategies to win the heart and mind of the millennials.

Jokowi often appears in jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers. He also likes riding big motorbike, particularly to impress the Generation Y.

The appointment of Erick Thohir, a young and successful businessman, as the chief of the Jokowi-Amin campaign team, is meant to make Thohir the millennial icon of the Jokowi-Amin team.

M. Jusuf Kalla, Indonesias Vice President and concurrently the chairman of the Advisory Board of the Jokowi-Amin national campaign team (TKN), recently noted that based on a survey, millennials prefer Jokowi in the upcoming presidential elections.

“I briefly read (the result of the survey) that the millennial generation in the next elections will prefer to choose the number 1 (Jokowi-Amin). This is not a campaign but just the issued data,” Kalla stated, while addressing the Indonesian Millennial Summit 2019 in Jakarta on Jan 19, 2019.

Kalla believed that he millennials preference for Jokowi was due to the leadership of Thohir.

“Thohir has been appointed as the campaign team leader. The younger generation has more faith because of the influence of Thohir,” he stated.

In the Subianto-Uno camp, the retired general mostly relies on Uno, who looks much younger than his age and is also handsome, to approach the millennials.

Uno loves sports, such as jogging, swimming, and basketball. He often plays basketball with young people. Besides, in his campaign speeches, he encourages them to engage themselves in entrepreneurship, and offers training courses to help them become entrepreneurs.

The vice presidential candidate, who sometimes joins exercises with his female supporters known as “emak-emak,” claimed that he has certain strategies to gather the support of the millennials.

He admitted that it is not easy to convince them to give their support because they tend to decide their presidential candidates in the last minutes. Even if they have their choices, it could change any time, he added.

“The millennials are unique. Some 50 percent of them care about politics, but the other half do not care. We have to work hard,” Uno remarked.

Uno, however, believed that the choice of the millennials has shifted after they watched the presidential candidate debate held for the first time on Jan 17, 2019.

Based on an internal survey of the Subianto-Uno campaign team, many millennials accepted the statements of Subianto and Uno better during the debate.

Uno remarked that he and his team would intensify their engagement with the younger generation during the ongoing campaign period that began in October 2018 and will end on April 13, 2019.

Meanwhile, Fadel Basrianto, a political researcher of the Indonesia Institute, remarked that the current millennial generation plays passive politics in an attempt to pressure political parties and presidential candidates to deliver substantial political education in the next general elections.

Recently, a group of millennials threatened to become non-voters or abstainers, or locally called “golput” (“white party”), in the 2019 elections.

By voicing such a threat, they indirectly pressured political parties and the presidential candidates to deliver better political education, he pointed out.

“This is a political tactic employed to not only decide who they will choose but also to impose conditions on the presidential candidates and political parties participating in the 2019 Presidential Elections that they must deliver political education,” he noted.

If such a stance is adopted by every millennial, it could contribute to a significant change, as the number of millennials in the illegible voter list of the 2019 elections reaches 40 percent, he revealed.

Political parties and candidates who can gauge the millennials orientation will win their votes, he added.

The two presidential candidates still have time to try to convince the millennials to choose them, particularly through their impressive appearance during the next presidential candidate debates scheduled for February 17, March 17, March 30, and April 13, 2019.

Source: ANTARA News