On 9 July 2014, Indonesia will vote at its third direct presidential election, and the country’s youth will have a vital role in setting the country’s direction for the next five years. Clarissa Tanurahardja spoke with Dody Ismoyo, Annisa Sabran and Fina J Roza to find out what they thought about the forthcoming election.

What are your thoughts about the upcoming presidential election in Indonesia?

Dody: From what I think, the upcoming presidential election in Indonesia is the continuation of democracy that has been practiced by Indonesians since democratisation in 1998. The presidential elections since then have been relatively stable and peaceful. Although things started out a bit rough, it gets smoother as time passes by. I do realise Indonesia’s democracy hasn’t fully matured: politics should benefit the people first, so there is still a long way to go for Indonesia to keep learning and improving them selves.

Annisa: Our most interesting presidential election yet! People should definitely go and vote, make sure your voices are heard! Our fate for five years will be decided by that day, so choose wisely.

Fina: Presidential elections are a “must” for democratic country like Indonesia, but in my opinion, Indonesia’s society isn’t ready yet for implementing the democracy itself. It’s not an easy thing to choose one person to lead our lovely country, Indonesia, and it’s a big responsibility for Indonesia’s citizens (the voters). We not only have to understand the agendas of the candidates, but as voters we also need to comprehend Indonesia’s current needs.

The wise thing would be to see which presidential candidate that has an agenda which aligns with Indonesia’s needs. I think a good presidential election can happen only if the voters actively contributing and searching for information about the candidates so that they can make the right choice.

How do you see the role of youth in this year’s election?

Dody: Nowadays, the internet-based generation has started to become a much larger part of Indonesian society as a whole. We are used to keeping ourselves updated about what is really going on out there objectively, without falling for irresponsible propaganda. Information can easily be spread, however thorough filtering must always be in the back of our mind. That’s where the youth can play an important role, maintaining the transparency and fairness. Besides, in a society where the majority of the youth has become more and more educated, politicians should know that all we need is not a simple campaign promise or easy money, but for our society to advance to spur economic growth and social development.

Annisa: They represent a huge portion of the voters, and it’s important that we end the whole apathetic view towards politics. The whole nothing-is-going-to-change-anyway-so-why-bother kind of view is dangerous. Your voice does matter, and change can occur if we’re willing to take action. I think the approach by various candidates using online social media to interact shows that youth represent a large potential group of voters.

Fina: As the next leaders of our nation, youth’s role is very important. We need youth who aware about politics so the future of democracy in Indonesia can grow. The upcoming election is a great chance for youth to taste democracy, however the current politicians in Indonesia still not giving great examples. We need positive actions from them which can encourage Indonesia’s youth trust them more.

AIYA: Do you think Indonesia’s election signifies the growth of democracy in Indonesia? Why, or why not?

Dody: I don’t think it is directly related. Election is just one way of expressing democracy in a society. Democracy has to be deeply rooted in every person, from a simple discussion, teamwork, brainstorming, speaking up people’s mind etc without the need of fear of superiority, bully, bribery, bureaucracy, stable income etc for the whole society to grow maturely in a democratic way. We are free to speak out or do anything that we think is right as long as it doesn’t violate constitution or regulation. Strengthening the rule of law will support the advancement of democracy faster in our society.

Annisa: It’s an important milestone for democracy in the country, but holding an election is not enough. Democracy is good for countries that are ready to uphold the concept, and Indonesia is still learning the idea of democracy. The system itself has to be fixed, for example to abolish bribery in the election process and to make sure the system is fair and transparent.

Fina: I don’t think so. I believe democracy is citizen’s power, people power. I want to see people power, and I hope people’s voices will not be bought. Democracy is about people power, not about the power of money.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead

Dody Ismoyo has spent his life between the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Australia. Annisa Sabran is spending her teenage years learning in Jordan. Fina J Roza is Indonesian living in Canada.