September 27, 2022
JAKARTA – The most recent opinion poll, which focuses on the 2024 electoral outlook of young voters, has revealed that social media darlings and governors Ganjar Pranowo of Central Java and Anies Baswedan of Jakarta are young voters’ firm favorite presidential hopefuls – edging out Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto in a three-horse race.
The survey, released by the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) on Monday, polled close to 1,200 young voters aged 17 to 39 – otherwise known as members of Gen Z and millennials – from Aug. 8 to 13, and had a margin of error of 2.84 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.
It showed that Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Ganjar, Gerindra Party chair Prabowo and outgoing governor Anies, who still has no political party, would be the top-three choices of young voters if the 2024 presidential race was held today against 11 other hopefuls.
But, should the election be contested only by the three most popular prospective candidates, one-third of respondents would pick Ganjar, while Anies came in second with an electability rating of 27.5 percent and Prabowo in last place with 25.7 percent.
This stands in contrast to other electability polls that did not focus on young voters, including an August poll by pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) and a September poll by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI). Both surveys found that Prabowo would come in second place, behind Ganjar, while usually Anies occupied the last position in a three-horse race.
Arya Fernandes, head of the CSIS’ department of politics, said that young voters tended to favor Anies over Prabowo because they believed that the Jakarta governor would be able to bring something new as a president, compared with veteran Prabowo.
“Young voters are more interested in something new, and Anies represents more of this, [compared with Prabowo],” Arya said.
In a simulation of two-way matchups, the survey found that Anies would win against either Ganjar or Prabowo, by an electability margin of 3.9 percentage points and 5.8 percentage points, respectively. Ganjar would only come on top against Prabowo, while Prabowo would lose both matchups.
“Anies would win against Ganjar in a head-to-head because he would pool in Prabowo’s supporters, since the two share a similar electoral base, such as West Java province and some provinces in Sumatra,” Arya said.
Of the three most-electable prospective candidates, only Prabowo has announced that he will be running in the 2024 election amid ongoing coalition talks between his party and the National Awakening Party (PKB).
Ganjar’s route, meanwhile, looks to be blocked by PDI-P elites, who seemingly prefer Puan Maharani – House of Representatives Speaker and the daughter of party matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri – as their nominee. Anies, on the other hand, is tipped to be nominated by a number of opposition parties, but is currently still unaffiliated with any party.
A closer look at the CSIS survey shows that many of the respondents ranked “honesty or corruption-free track record” as their greatest concern when asked about the characteristics they wanted in a president, at 34.8 percent, followed by “humility or pro-people” at 15.9 percent.
Arya said this was a change from past elections, which saw voters wanting their president to be humble and down to earth – characteristics commonly associated with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during both of his 2014 and 2019 presidential wins, particularly through his signature blusukan (impromptu visits).
In the survey, respondents cited a law-abiding, corruption-free nation as their biggest hope for the future of Indonesia, at 32.4 percent, followed by reliable and accessible public services at 24.2 percent.
Concerns surrounding corruption have continued to mount in recent years, amid controversies surrounding the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) – including the imposition of an employment test that resulted in the dismissal of senior investigators – and a lengthy list of high-profile graft cases implicating two former ministers and a Supreme Court justice.
Winds of change
According to CSIS’ estimates, some 54 percent of voters in the 2024 general election will be younger than 40 years old. This is likely to also include an undisclosed number of first-time voters.
The prominence of young voters, Arya said, has the potential to usher in a new era of governance, marked by a new-found focus on emerging issues.
Aside from corruption, the survey found young voters taking particular notice of Indonesia’s regression in democracy, particularly in regard to a shrinking civic space, as well as concerns over inflating commodity prices, a hyper-competitive job market and the environment.
“Political parties are incentivized to alter their campaigning tactics to focus on [issues] particularly relevant to young voters,” Arya said. “The political debates [between presidential candidates] also need to reflect this.”