See More on Facebook

News, Politics

Southeast Asian elections will be defined by young voters

More than half of the population of Southeast Asia is .


Written by

Updated: February 18, 2019

More than half of the population of Southeast Asia is under the age of 30. Therefore, it stands to reason that this segment of the population will have an outsized influence in coming political contests. Candidates across the region have their eyes turned toward capturing young votes, and that mission is having an affect on their platforms, and the way they campaign.

Indonesia

In Indonesia, Millennials make up nearly half of the electorate, and as such, candidates are working hard to woo young people. But, according to research it’s a tricky voter segment to pin down—and one that has traditionally been less politically engaged.

One Jakarta-based pollster, Alvara Research Center found in one survey that only about 23.4 percent of young respondents reported that they follow political news. And, these young people have historically stayed away from the polls.

The rate of abstention has been on the rise in Indonesia since the 1999 elections with as many as 30 percent of registered voters opting not to cast ballots in 2014. The majority of those that chose to sit the election out were young voters.

The major campaigns for the presidential contest have made repeated calls for millennials to choose their candidate and then get out and vote. Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto’s running mate, former deputy Jakarta governor Sandiaga Uno has attended a number of youth-focused events, including the Indonesia Millennial Summit 2019.

And the incumbent, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has made use of some of his younger, hipper political allies to encourage millennial support. One of those allies, United Development Party (PPP) chairman Romahurmuziy has said the president is aiming to get at least 45 percent of the millennial vote.

But Millennials obviously aren’t just voters, as this generation ages, they are inevitably vying to become more directly involved in the political process, by becoming candidates themselves. Roughly 21 percent of the 7,991 candidates running for seats in the Indonesian House of Representatives are between the ages of 21 and 35.

Many of these candidates are making use of less traditional ways of connecting with potential supporters. Kirana Larasati, a 31-year-old television actress who’s running for a seat in West Java’s first electoral district for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, for example, posted a slickly edited YouTube vlogger-style video on her Twitter account answering questions from followers.

The video calls to mind the more viral stylings of another Millennial political campaign, that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the United States, offering a glimpse into a future of digitally savvy candidates.

Philippines

More the one-third of the voters in the Philippines are in the 18 to 35 bracket, according to the Commission on Elections, or Comelec, spokesperson James Jimenez, with some 1.5 million Filipino youth will newly eligible to vote for the very first time in this year’s polls.

Officials and organizations are encouraging high youth participation in the upcoming elections. Jimenez, for example told young voters choosing a candidate to support that “[the candidate] should know what you want, what your issues are. That’s what the youth should pay attention to,” he said.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, a non-partisan, non-profit affiliated with the Catholic Church is working to encourage young voters to begin evaluating candidates. Their “One Good Vote” initiative seeks to implore youth voters to judge candidates based on three key criteria: character, competency and honestly.

Young voters have been turned off from political activity in the past. A report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer in early 2018 showed that youth who might otherwise consider participating in political life—either by running for office themselves, or by voting—were turned off by corruption and nepotism.

Thailand

Early research shows that election participation among young people in Thailand could be impressive this year. A survey of first-time voters carried out by Bangkok University found that 78.6 percent of the respondents said they would vote in the general election and 85.8 percent said they were monitoring political developments on social media.

While social media certainly isn’t just the domain of the young, this election will likely take on a distinctly digital tone, more so than any Thai election before, giving young digital natives a different perspective on their nation’s politics.

Thailand’s 2019 elections will be the first time votes will be counted for a national contest in eight years. The world has changed a lot in that time, making this is Thailand’s first full-on social media election.

The last time Thailand held a national election, in 2011, internet penetration in Thailand was less than one third, Twitter had a niche user base, had 10 million users, but no political party or individual candidate had yet to gain 1 million likes.

Compared to today, the social media of 2011 looks quaint. According to a report by Hootsuite and We Are Social, in 2019, there were 57 million internet users in Thailand, making internet penetration 82 percent. Active social media users make up 74 percent of the population. Thailand now has more than 46 million Facebook users. While General Prayut Cha-o-cha enjoys less support on the platform (his Facebook page has 502,000 likes), the page of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has 6 million likes.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Quinn Libson
About the Author: Quinn Libson is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

News, Politics

Communist Party of China calls for efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up

Political Bureau stresses importance of winning three critical battles in 2020. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee called on Friday for solid efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up, amid tensions in the external environment, to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained next year. The general trend of China’s economy in maintaining stable and long-term positive operation remains unchanged, according to a statement released after the bureau’s meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. China will keep its economic growth within a reasonable range in 2020, with more “forwarding-looking, targeted and effective” policies, the statement said. The nation will pursue a policy framework that allows macro policies to be stable, micro policies


By China Daily
December 9, 2019

News, Politics

Najib to take the stand today

The former premier is accused of malfeasance. Today is the day that Malaysians will see, for the first in the country’s history, a former prime minister take the stand to answer charges against him in a court of law. Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pic), 66, will testify from the witness box as the first defence witness to rebut his seven charges of misappropriating RM42mil in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. According to his co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh, Najib will be called as the first witness on the opening day of the defence’s proceedings. Najib will be first questioned by his defence during examination-in-chief before being cross-examined by the prosecution. On Nov 11, Justice Mohd Nazlan ordered Najib to enter his defence on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three charges of money laundering and on


By The Star
December 3, 2019

News, Politics

New parties face drubbing in by-elections as Nepalis continue to vote along party lines

“They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance”. Nepalis once again displayed traditional voting patterns as they continued to choose the established parties—Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress—while casting their ballots in Saturday’s by-election, as they snubbed newer parties like Sajha and Bibeksheel. Despite their untiring efforts, focussing primarily on Kaski Constituency-2 in a bid to get a seat in the federal Parliament, both Sajha and Bibeksheel, cut no ice with voters. Both parties have had to fight hard to even secure their deposits, as candidates must garner at least 10 percent of the total votes cast to get back their deposit; a failure to do so is considered humiliating. By-elections were held on Saturday for 52 positions, including a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly seats


By The Kathmandu Post
December 2, 2019

News, Politics

Thousands return to Hong Kong streets in fresh round of protests

Police fire tear gas at those outside of approved route. After a week of relative calm, thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday (Dec 1) chanting slogans such as “revolution of our time” and “liberate Hong Kong”. The protest, which took place in the bustling shopping district of Tsim Tsa Tsui, came after hundreds of people marched to the United States consulate earlier in the day to show “gratitude” for US support for the demonstrations that have roiled the China-ruled financial hub for nearly six months. Waving posters that read “Never forget why you started” and black flags with the logo “Revolution now”, protesters marched past the city’s Kowloon waterfront, home to luxury hotels and shopping malls. Police in riot gear were out in force for the Tsim Sha Tsui march – the third one of the day. The


By The Straits Times
December 2, 2019

News, Politics

TikTok apologises for blocking American teen’s video about Xinjiang disguised as makeup tutorial

In a statement, TikTok blamed a “human moderation error” for the incident and promised to review its policies. VIdeo-sharing app TikTok apologised for blocking an American teenager’s account after she posted a video about China’s treatment of Muslims in the Xinjiang region that went viral. In a statement, Eric Han, head of safety at TikTok US, blamed a “human moderation error” for the removal of 17-year-old Feroza Aziz’s video, which was disguised as a makeup tutorial and received millions of views across TikTok, Twitter and Instagram. Han said: “Due to a human moderation error, the viral video… was removed. It’s important to clarify that nothing in our community guidelines precludes content such as this video, and it shou


By Dawn
November 29, 2019

News, Politics

NO MERCY for café attack perpetrators

Sentencing 7 militants to death, court says Holey Artisan attack was designed to assassinate the non-communal character of Bangladesh.  A Dhaka court yesterday sentenced seven militants to death for their involvement in the 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack, terming it a disgraceful attack aimed at assassinating the non-communal character of Bangladesh. The Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal acquitted one accused as it found him not guilty in the atrocity that left 22 people, including 17 foreigners, dead in the capital’s Gulshan. The judgment came more than three years after the country’s deadliest café siege which, according to the court, was aimed at endangering public safety and drawing attention of the international militant organisation IS. The grisly attack followed a spate of target killings of bloggers, writers, members of religious minorities a


By Daily Star
November 28, 2019