“Young people must take it upon themselves to ensure that they receive the highest education possible so that they can represent us well in the future as future leaders.”
Indonesian democracy is facing a major transformation phase in the 2024 Election. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in “Young Voters in the 2024 General Election: Dynamic, Adaptive, and Responsive,” estimates that the 2024 election will mark a number of important changes in the Indonesian political landscape. The political dominance of young people will influence the direction of the country’s long-term strategic policies, digital penetration, and population dynamics.
As a country with a relatively young democratic history, the challenges and opportunities of democratization are very visible. One of the key groups that has great potential to shape the future of Indonesian democracy is the group of young voters. The results of the CSIS research indicate that the number of young voters could be close to 114 million, with a percentage level reaching 54% of the total Permanent Voter List (2023) released by the General Election Commission. Practically, changes in the political landscape in the future will be driven by the typical tastes and lifestyles of young voters, who are dynamic, adaptive, and responsive, especially shifts in their interest in political issues and the characteristics of national leadership.
A study by the National Resilience Institute of the Republic of Indonesia (Lemhannas RI) in 2023 stated that the objective the government wants to achieve from the democratization currently underway is the realization of mature democracy by 2029. If calculated from the 1998 Reformation process and then continuing with the first direct elections held in 1999, the periodization has a timeline of 30 years to 2029.
To realize this target, there are stages that must be passed. This has been since 1999, or the first post-Reformation election. This year can be said to be the initial phase of Indonesia finding and reopening the “tap of democracy,” which had previously been blocked for decades.
Indonesia, after experiencing the repressive government of the New Order, entered a new phase with the initiation of democracy in 1999. The democracy road map initiated by Lemhanas depicts an extraordinary journey, from democratic installation to consolidation and, finally, to mature democracy in 2029.
The democratic installation period, in 2004 and 2009, saw the establishment of democratic governance structures. In 2004, the first direct presidential elections were held, changing the dynamics of political power. In 2009, legislative and presidential elections again gave legitimacy to the democratic regime. This installation creates the foundation for the implementation of democracy in practical form.
Democratic consolidation is a phase when democratic values are firmly embedded in the country’s political culture and governance. The 2014 election was an important milestone marking this consolidation, with increasingly mature public participation and increasingly tested election mechanisms. The 2019 elections continued this momentum but also faced challenges such as disinformation and political polarization. Consolidating democracy in the 2024 elections is the main focus to overcome obstacles and strengthen the foundations of democracy.
Indonesia’s democracy roadmap reaches its peak in 2029, with the hope of achieving “mature democracy.” A continuous process of consolidation, building strong democratic institutions, and active public participation are the main drivers towards a mature democracy. At this stage, the hope is that Indonesia has a political system that does not only consist of formal structures but is also internalized and maintained by society as a whole.
This road map for Indonesian democracy depicts Indonesia’s extraordinary journey towards mature democracy. And the key is the success of holding elections. Elections are the main instrument of democracy, which plays a role as a tool for the circulation of elites and leadership as well as a medium for actualizing the political rights and obligations of all citizens. The quality and credibility of elections will certainly produce quality government administrators who will continue the increasingly mature Indonesian democratization relay.
The initiation of democracy in 1999, marked by direct and democratic elections, was a passionate moment that opened the door to Indonesia’s democratic experiment. The era of democratic installation in 2004 and 2009 involved building a democratic government structure, replacing the old order with a new one. Elections are gradually entering a period of substantial implementation, not merely procedural and ceremonial.
However, the real challenge emerged during the democratic consolidation phase. The 2014 and 2019 elections proved that while Indonesia’s democracy is growing, there is still work to be done. Disinformation, polarization, and complex policy issues require special attention. Democratic consolidation will run smoothly if there is commitment, consistency, and continuity to the process that is believed and shared by all existing political actors. This is certainly not easy because, logically, politics is more often interpreted as the art of interest and power.
There are many simple case studies that reflect the stagnation of democratic consolidation. For example, regional autonomy has apparently not had a significant impact on the welfare of the people. Direct regional elections produce regional heads who often stumble into corruption cases; the bureaucracy is still fat and slow in serving the community; and the community itself is entangled in political apathy, which is shown by the still high percentage of abstaining from voting (abstentions) in every election event.
The 2024 election is an important milestone in this roadmap. Democratic consolidation is expected to further strengthen the foundations of democracy and provide leaders who are able to manage the complex challenges of the 21st century. The involvement of young voters, the use of technology for transparency, and strengthening law enforcement institutions are key in this journey.
In 2029, Indonesia hopes to achieve a mature democracy. This is not only about the formation of wise and transparent policies but also about the active involvement of society in the decision-making process. The building of strong independent institutions, comprehensive political education, and increased public participation will be signs of success in achieving this goal. By observing Indonesia’s democratic road map, we are reminded that democracy is a long and continuous journey. The most important part is how we learn and grow from each stage. The next election is not just about choosing a leader but also about building a better democratic future for Indonesia.
The 2024 election is very important as a moment for young people to take part in politics at large. This determines the acceleration of democratic maturity that is aspired to. As the sixth election since the Reformation, this moment is not only about electing a new leader but also testing the resilience of the democratic institutions that have been built over the last two decades. The 2024 election will be an important turning point in Indonesia’s democratic consolidation journey.
With active participation, young voters can shape political narratives. Youth must fight for democratic values and encourage positive change at various levels of society. Through joint efforts between young voters, the government, and other elements of society, Indonesia can move towards democratic maturity in 2029. This journey is not only about ensuring the continuity of a transparent election process but also strengthening democratic values in every aspect of people’s lives.
As the next generation, young voters are predicted to reach more than 70% of the total population in 2029. A large number certainly have a big responsibility to maintain and develop the democratic legacy that has been left by their predecessors. Through education, active participation, and creative initiatives, young voters can become a dynamic force shaping Indonesia’s stronger and more inclusive democratic future. The 2024 election is just the beginning of a long journey towards democratic maturity, and young voters are the main key to opening the door to a brighter future. 
Election Observer and Activist