Indonesia, the third largest democracy, held its presidential and legislative elections simultaneously on Wednesday, April 17. Early sampling of results by pollsters, called quick counts in Indonesia, show incumbent Joko Widodo leading by at least 7% margin over his rival Prabowo Subianto.
Surveys also show that from the 16 parties running for legislative seats, the ruling party Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), while leading with around 19%-20% of total votes, did not experience a significant surge.
PDI-P’s stagnant growth became interesting as other parties such as the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), the Democratic Party and the United Development Party (PPP) experienced a decline in votes.
Who gained their votes? Some may have gone to Prabowo’s party the Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra), which managed to overtake second place. But, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) was a dark horse with the highest vote growth this year.
Four new parties – the Garuda Party, the Berkarya Party, the Indonesian Unity Party (Perindo), and the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) – debuted the legislative race this year.
As predicted by various survey institutions ahead of voting day, the new parties found it hard to pass the parliamentary threshold of 4%. If parties don’t pass the threshold, equivalent to winning at least 5 million votes, they would not be able to get a seat in parliament.
The quick count results show that voters in Indonesia are more supportive of established parties than new ones.
2019 election dynamics
1. Ruling party stagnant
Before the legislative election, the survey agency LSI estimated Jokowi’s party, the PDI-P, would be able to win 24% of the vote. Quick count results show that PDI-P is in the range of winning 19%-20% of votes. This is only 1% higher than the previous period, indicating a stagnant performance from the ruling party. Even though it still leads the vote share, the party didn’t significantly increase their base.
2. Gerindra overtakes Golkar
While Prabowo might lose the presidential election, his party Gerindra took Golkar’s runner up position in the 2014 election. Polls point that Gerindra secured around 12%-13% of the votes. Golkar, the ruling party during Soeharto’s era, might fall to third place with around 10%-11% of the national vote.
3. General Wiranto’s party out
Hanura party of former military chief Wiranto (now serving as Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law, and Security) failed to pass the parliamentary threshold and might not be eligible to have seats in the national parliament. Quick count sampling shows Hanura’s votes fell to the range of 1%-2% from 5.26% in the 2014 legislative election.
Leadership conflict and a corruption scandal seemed to have negatively influenced the party’s electability.
4. United Development Party (PPP) on thin ice
PPP, one of the oldest Islamic party, saw votes falling from 6.5% in 2014 to around 4.6%. This places PPP, which was recently hit by a corruption scandal, in a critical zone, as it only reached slightly above the 4% threshold to be able to join the parliament.
5. Democrats’ downward trend
The Democratic Party, founded by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, continue to suffer vote losses. The party’s prestige seems to be fading along with many blunders in their campaign strategy. After winning in 2009 with 20.85%, their votes fell to 10.19% in 2014 and continued to shrink to around 8% this year.
6. A revival of Prosperous Justice Party (PKS)
PKS, expected to pocket 2-3% more votes than the 2014 legislative election, showed a significant increase. This makes the Islam-based party in a safe zone with around 8.6% -9.6 % of the national vote. PKS targeted 12% of votes for the 2019 legislative elections. One of their strategies was targeting first-time voters and choosing candidates with decent electability to join.
7. TV-backed NasDem Party gathered more votes too
The NasDem Party also succeeded in increasing the vote from 6.5% in the 2014 legislative election to 8%-9% this year. Headed by Metro TV owner Surya Paloh, the party benefited from the national television station’s heavy promotion.
New parties less attractive
The survey results by various pollsters show that old parties dominated the competition to win parliament seats. All new parties failed to passed their legislative candidates to the national parliament.
Quick count conducted by Kompas shows that Perindo, founded by one of the media tycoons, Harry Tanoesoedibjo, managed to collect 2.8% of the votes. The Berkarya Party pioneered by Soeharto’s children also won 2.1% of the national vote.
PSI, chaired by Grace Natalie, also didn’t make the cut. Even though during the campaign period from September 2018 to April 2019 the party with the slogans “Open, Progressive, That’s Us!” had promoted themselves aggressively via social media to promote its programs and political views, their votes only stood at around 2%.
Voters have yet seemed to catch on with PSI’s concept as a “young blood” party in Indonesian politics. And this has been predicted before in a study I published in the journal Women’s Studies International Forum. In this research, it is shown that young voters still tend to choose male candidates compared to women and established parties compared to new ones.
Despite failing to get a seat in the national parliament, PSI recorded an astounding success in the nation’s capital. This party succeeded in gaining nearly 8% of the votes in Jakarta according to a quick count conducted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Cyrus Network.
Election commission data shows that at least 80-100 million voters in 2019 legislative elections are under 40 years old. This figure is almost half of the registered voters.
From PSI’s failure in the national legislative race, it is possible to say that young Indonesian voters are yet familiar with this new party, despite their aggressive campaign on social media. On the other hand, the old parties, which are relatively not social media savvy, also took young voters seriously. They overhauled their management to make way for young politicians to garner votes from young people.
We can deduce the preference of young voters by the magnitude of the support given to old parties. However, we need to investigate further how young voters play a role in 2019 legislative election results.
For the time being, it’s safe to conclude that the correlation between the age of the voters and the age of the party chosen (the old party versus the new party) is not too significant. In other words, young voters still support older parties who have participated in elections more often.