Talk of the 2014 elections has been heating up over the past few months, but most of the country’s Muslim youth don’t seem to have taken much notice.
“I have no interest in getting involved in Indonesian politics because once a person becomes a politician, they become selfish and work only for their own interests. They forget their promises to the society,” said Syaiful Huda, a 23-year-old student from Yogyakarta’s Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University.
His response echoes the results of a recent survey among almost 1,500 Indonesian Muslims aged 15-25 carried out by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) along with the Goethe Institute and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty.
Only 28.6 percent said they were interested in politics, only 16.1 percent of those eligible to vote have participated in every election and 48 percent dismiss politics as boring.
Maya Larasati, 23, from Atma Jaya University in Yogyakarta, feels the same way as Syaiful.
“I believe that I would never be able to win as a clean representative, so if I have a social mission, I would rather implement it outside our political system because our political system is so corrupt,” she said.
Jerry Sambuaga, a 25-year-old member of the Golkar Party and adviser to the speaker of the Regional Representatives Council, wasn’t surprised by the results.
However, he said that the only way to change the system was by getting involved.
“What we need to understand is that politics is part of our daily life and politics is a form of devotion especially when it comes to fighting for the public interest,” he said.
Furthermore, Jerry, who started becoming active in politics at the age of 17, said the liberalization of Indonesian politics had provided young people and women a lot more options to be heard.
Burhanuddin Muhtadi, a senior researcher at the LSI, told reporters on Tuesday that the younger generation had no interest in politics because there are just too many political problems, including graft, that needed to be fixed.
“It is very dangerous that we have young people who are not interested in politics as they are the future generation of Indonesia,” Burhanuddin said.
“If they are not interested, who will continue to rule this country?” he said.
“Therefore, it is very important that our politicians change their ways to bring about a better political system that can be interesting for our young generation.”
The researcher also said that there were ways out of the predicament.
“The simplest way is by improving political parties’ performance,” he said.
“[If we fix] the funding system, politicians would not be trapped in a vicious circle of corruption — and we all know that corruption has been playing a major role in making young people feel sick and tired of the Indonesian political system,” he said.