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Good Faith Efforts To Improve Democracy in Indonesia?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 24 2014

Photo: Flickr/KCIvey

Democracy in Indonesia has two things going for it this year—a new organization called Ayo Vote, which hopes to mobilize young people and get them to the polls, and a government sponsored website where voters can peruse the CVs of their potential representation.

Pingkan Irwin cofounded Ayo Vote last July and has been reaching out to young voters and raising awareness ever since. She hopes to see in Indonesia this year some of the enthusiasm for politics she witnessed while studying abroad in the United States in 2008. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Irwin explained that voter apathy was so entrenched that they needed a full year to convey the message.

Even if young voters know that participating in democracy is important, there are many hurdles to becoming an educated voter. For one, there are just too many candidates. In an opinion piece for the Jakarta Globe, researcher Sidarta Danang Krisianto of Strategic Asiawrites that each of the 15 political parties put seven candidates forward at the local level.

To help voters figure out who's who, the government launched a website for voters where they can review candidates' CVs.

Krisianto writes:

While the site is a great resource and will undoubtedly help many Indonesians to make their decisions, it seems something of an attempt to paper over the cracks in Indonesian democracy. Why are our future leaders and representatives presented to us in the same way we pick items on online shopping website? Does the website allow for reviews? Will there be any 5-star candidates for the local elections? It seems unlikely.

On top of that, there have already been reports of candidates forging their CVs.

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