Young voters in Asia

Young voters in Asia are emerging as a critical demographic in shaping electoral outcomes. In the upcoming 2024 Indonesian general election, for instance, millennials and Gen-Z voters comprise more than half of the eligible voting population. This significant proportion underscores their potential to decisively influence the presidential and legislative elections.

In Taiwan, whom young people ultimately vote for — and how many vote at all — could be crucial in deciding the presidential election on Jan. 13. About 70% of Taiwanese in their 20s and 30s voted in the 2020 presidential election, a lower share than among middle-aged and older voters, according to official data. People ages 20 to 34 count for one-fifth of Taiwan’s population, government estimates show.

Meanwhile, in India, there has been an ongoing concern about the number of young people who are eligible to vote but do not. Prime Minister Modi took to Twitter before the recent state elections to encourage young and first time voters.

Issues of trust are also seen in Japan, where more than half of the voters (55 percent) do not trust politics. This number is higher than the 44 percent who said they do trust politics. Among the respondents under 40 years old, a whopping 70 percent said they do not trust politics, while a little over 40 percent of those who are 60 or older said the same.

The issues that matter to these young voters are diverse and reflect the challenges and aspirations unique to their generation. They are concerned about environmental issues, mental health, and the creative economy. There’s also a focus on more tangible problems like high dropout rates from secondary school, inadequate health insurance, lack of incentives for creative and tech businesses, and insufficient legal protections against sexual harassment and violence. These young voters are increasingly politically literate, seeking candidates who can represent their interests and address these specific issues.

Political parties and candidates are adapting their strategies to appeal to this demographic. In the digital age, social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter have become crucial battlegrounds. For example, Indonesian presidential candidates are using these platforms to connect with young voters, showcasing different facets of their personalities and policies. Prabowo Subianto, a candidate with a military background, has softened his image on social media, contrasting with his earlier nationalist and war-hardened portrayal.

However, young voters are discerning and look beyond mere social media presence. They demand clear, actionable programs and a vision that resonates with their concerns. The shift in campaign strategies reflects an acknowledgment of the growing importance and unique preferences of young Asian voters. As this demographic continues to grow in numbers and political awareness, their impact on future elections across Asia is likely to increase, shaping the political landscape in significant ways.