Incumbent presidential candidate President Joko Widodo and his rival former General Prabowo Subianto are both trying to woo the much converted “millennial vote” – the 20-35 year age bracket which they hope could swing the election in their favour.
Much of these efforts have gone into presenting a “trendy” image, with Widodo endeavoring to appeal to the younger crowd by donning casual clothing and attending music festivals or his campaign team members (timses) trying to portray 75-year-old running mate and conservative Muslim cleric Ma’ruf Amin as a “millennial at heart”.
Prabowo meanwhile has been playing down his military background and striving to project a more “laid-back” public image to attract young voters, with his campaign team trumpeting the merits of the “New Prabowo” and highlighting the successes of running mate and 49-year-old businessperson Sandiaga Uno (who recently told a crowd of young people not to bother looking for non-existent jobs but start their own business instead).
Election observers however say the usual depiction of a millennial as someone who is educated, inner city, using Go-Food, on Instagram and actively involved in politics on social media, is in fact misleading and only represents a small proportion of what people in this age group are actually doing.
They also warn that that wearing sneakers and jeans, or riding a big motorbike won’t be enough, and that candidates need to address the real issues affecting young millennials – the lack of employment opportunities and not being able to afford to buy a house – otherwise many will just get turned off by an election campaign that has so far been dominated by slander, fake news and identity politics, and simply not bother to vote at all.