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Internet-savvy youth set to shape Indonesia's elections

Publication Date : 08-01-2014

 

Digital activism, across all social media platforms, initiated by young people in the country is expected to flourish this year as the elections are just around the corner.

Additionally, as the number of this group - who are between 17 and 30 years old - represents around 60 per cent of social media users today, with 13 per cent of them having been engaged in the digital world for the past five years, winners and losers during the election can see how they are perceived online.

“Young people are going to be a very important element in political activities this year because when they share any issue online, they create room for others to listen or engage with them,” Pamflet website coordinator Raka Ibrahim said in Jakarta on Tuesday on the sidelines of discussion on the Netizen Activity Projection in a Political Year.

“This positions youth as the newsmakers - particularly when they are posting live tweets - and news consumers, as well as a group who shares news with the public.”

Pamflet is a newly established organisation that conducts research on issues that are widely talked about by young people and helps facilitate them to act in the humanitarian sector.

This group was going to be even more crucial during the upcoming elections as 30 per cent of this year’s final voters’ list (DPT) were young people, Raka said, citing recent data compiled by the General Elections Commission (KPU).

He also said that favourite figures during the quinquennial democratic event could be seen from political issues that were shared in social media; thus, it would help project who would be the eventual winner.

Public Virtue Institute (PVI) representative John Muhammad agreed with Raka, saying that digital civic activism nowadays was centralised among young people, making the combination of digital platform and youth an essential element in looking at the future of democracy in Indonesia.

“It shows that the young people are actually paying attention to the process of democracy in the country, even though sometimes they do not know who they will choose in the end,” John said.

This situation has inspired the PVI to create a new digital activism platform meteranpolitik.com, which is set to be launched in February, to help make people aware of every party’s track record and key figures who will contest the elections.

The site would also involve public participation so that the site could precisely measure what political issues most interested the public and who were people’s favorite contenders, he said.

Meanwhile, Change.org Indonesia founder Usman Hamid said flourishing digital activism showed that the people, especially young people, were no longer silent; on the contrary, they were taking action, such as rallying on the streets to protest against injustice and defend the oppressed.

“This new activism is growing as people come to realise that online social media is a powerful tool to encourage change for better conditions,” he said.

According to Change.org data, at least nine significant changes took place last year due to the increasing number of young people getting involved on social media sites and signing online petitions to put pressure on those who oppressed others.

They included a decision by national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia to no longer carry shark fin in their aircraft; the decision by the House of Representatives to not endorse Daming Sanusi for Supreme Court justice, and seeing an end to fish bombing practices in Mentawai, West Sumatra.

 

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