Political parties are starting to innovate and formulate strategies to face the 2024 General Election. Various ways are carried out, ranging from attracting sympathy through populist issues, holding festivals, to being active on social media that young people like, such as Tiktok and Instagram.
By actively interacting on social media platforms, political parties are targeting novice voters whose numbers are expected to dominate over the previous election. In the 2019 Presidential Election, the General Election Commission (KPU) determined that the number of voters aged 20 years had reached more than 17.5 million people on the Permanent Voters List (DPT), while those aged 21-30 years was 42.8 million people.
The votes of these novice voters had a big hand in winning presidential elections in the Philippines and Timor Leste. However, according to Yosef Djakababa, a political observer and lecturer in international relations at Pelita Harapan University, social media is only one way to win voters’ votes. In the elections in the Philippines, according to Yosep, Marcos Jr.’s victory could not be separated from the unification of the two political dynasties. The Marcos family is powerful in the north of the Philippines, while Sara Duterte, daughter of former President Rodrigo Duterte, has influence in the south. Jaring.id interviewed Yosef Djakababa on Saturday, May 28, 2022, to dig deeper into the issue. Below are the excerpts of the interview :
Question (Q) : Ahead of the 2024 election, political parties seem to be vying for the sympathy of novice voters through social media. How important is this?
Answer (A) : It is very important, especially since the number of novice voters is very large. They will also be the future leaders. It is very strategic. Novice voters should be convinced. I wish novice voters should have been more critical. The challenge for young voters is to find true and legitimate information, because a lot of hoax information has sprung up.
Social media is an important instrument for voicing ideas and disseminating political party candidates. This age group depends on social media. Therefore, social media is used as an instrument for disseminating information.
On the other hand, social media can be abused. Social media is sometimes used as a space to divert and to lead opinion. This is done by all the existing candidates. It is possible that social media is being engineered to win certain candidates at the 2024 Regional Head Elections and General Elections. I think this is the challenge of democracy. Social media in the context of Indonesia and Southeast Asia is an important tool.
The election results in the Philippines have proven it.
The results of the Philippines election is not surprising. Bongbong wins again despite the bad reputation of his family. They are the Marcos family—a political family, starting from the children, the mothers, the nephews, the cousins. They build a family political culture. They are never out of politics. Their followers are also solid. Southeast Asian politics raises the ‘character’. This is important.
In Timor Leste, Ramos-Horta won. I think the similarity of elections in these countries is that people see the figures, the characters. The system may be democratic, but the same candidate appears. They are from the same group. Xanana is a king maker and his support means a lot.
Q : Do young voters play an important role in these two countries?
A : Their countries’ position is strategic. This cannot be separated from demographics. Productive young age people are the determining group. They are included in the political culture of figures.
In the Philippines, many young leaders support Bongbong because of the Duterte factor. But the phenomenon in the Philippines, there are many groups of young voters who strongly support democracy, human rights, especially the antithesis of Marcos. This is a group of young people who see a better future for the Philippines.
Q: How can a candidate’s political background not be considered? Does the spread of hoaxes have an effect?
A: It is not only about the hoax. The hoax does have an effect, but there are other factors too. There is a narrative that the Marcos era was a golden age. He spread the information on social media. The same thing happened in Timor leste. Hoax is only one significant factor, but it does not explain all.
On Facebook, Marcos Jr. vociferously said that the tenure of his father was a golden age. On the other hand, the Philippines government failed to make good teaching in schools. The comparison narrative pays little attention to that.
Q : What is the difference between the choices of young voters in the Philippines, Timor Leste, and Indonesia?
A : They are part of everyday life. That is the common ground. They are used to getting information from digital platforms. The information they receive is massive. That is the similarity of these age groups in the Asian region.
Timor Leste, the Philippines and Indonesia have the same characteristics and have great power to choose from, namely the importance of character. The leader who is considered as a figure with a well-known background as a politician or artist will be elected. Figures or individual figures are more important in the Southeast Asian region than the programs made by political parties or candidates. It is a tradition that remains.
Q : So, is it not surprising that a party uses cadres with large followers to attract attention?
A : They are targeting the millennial generation as the ‘market share’ of votes that can be achieved and captured. They have to pay attention to the votes of young voters). They have to listen too. This is marketing and branding. How to make the millennial age group happy with political parties. There are several things that young people like, such as being more visual, faster, less boring, and conveying important points rather than rambling on an issue.
It is also necessary for political parties to pay attention that if their promises are not fulfilled then the instrument to gain votes can be destroyed once they make mistakes. Politics is an image, so it cannot be removed. It is also important to emphasize that you do not continue to merely build an image, but you have to work. What are you working on? What are the results? That is what democracy demands.
Q : So, is it not enough just to present themselves on social media?
A : It is not enough, they have to be more creative. That is why they recruit newbies to join political parties. Either way, there will be a saturation point. Must be more innovative. Social media is only one way.
I think it is the duty of political parties to conduct healthy political education for novice voters. The trick is by doing the right work, not the bad politics. So far, politics tends to be seen in a negative point of view. Therefore, political parties should provide education to the public.
In addition, political parties must also be able to fulfill the wishes of the people. There must be accountability and listening to constituents. Listening to the wishes of the people is the most effective way to teach political education. ***