Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia needs to watch out for spiraling identity politics as the 2024 general election nears, the National Resilience Institute or Lemhannas warned.
Identity politics refers to the political strategy of making use of one's identifying factors such as ethnic and religious backgrounds to attract votes. And this is something that Indonesia might have to deal with next year, as candidates and supporters try to sway the public before they cast their votes in 2024.
"The three biggest challenges in Indonesia's political escalations for 2023 and 2024 are identity politics, misinformation and hoaxes, as well as hate speech related to identity politics," Lemhannas governor Andi Widjajanto said at a year-end press briefing.
Andi called for the government to address hate speech and identity politics. However, whatever regulation the government imposes still needs to take into account freedom of speech – a critical component of a democratic country.
"They usually take place on digital platforms. So I think the government can impose stronger regulations or play a bigger role to address these issues, but without clashing with the democratic principles of freedom of speech," Andi said.
"Digital literacy will also become key to mitigate these political escalations," he added.
Last week, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo warned the Elections Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) about how identity politics could be harmful to the culturally diverse Indonesia.
"We cannot take identity politics, religion politicization, as well as politics on tribal affiliations, religion, race, and societal groups lightly. We must not give room for any of this. It is extremely dangerous, and gives a chance for others to break our nation apart," Jokowi said at a Bawaslu conference in Jakarta.
Bawaslu plans to keep an eye out for any hoaxes and smear campaigns on social media. Commenting on Bawaslu's cyber police, Jokowi said "I agree with the plan. The problem often starts with social media [posts], which will later cause the situation on the field to heat up."
The presidential and legislative elections will take place on Feb. 14, 2024. Regional elections for local leaders are slated for Nov. 27, 2024.