Saturday, May 19, 2007

Young leaders demand better representation for youths

Friday, March 23, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Young politicians are demanding a greater role for themselves in political parties to better represent their younger constituents.

The calls for affirmative action have not met with approval, however, with politicians and researchers saying such representation is unprecedented.

"I don't agree with the idea of allocating more seats to young people in the legislature because there is no direct relationship between the political system and young people," House of Representatives member Ferry Mursyidan Baldan said Thursday.

"If every group were given a quota in the legislature, it would be full of appointees, not elected representatives. There would be no competition."

Ferry of Golkar Party said he agreed that young people should be given more chances in political parties, but not through a quota in the legislature.

Indra Jaya Piliang, a researcher from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also opposes a quota for young people in the legislature.

"That would not be educational at all. I agree with giving more seats to women to maintain a proportional electoral system. But I don't agree with applying such a quota for young people. The nation's challenges loom larger and larger every day and we need young people who have enough political experience to lead this nation.

"Even for political regeneration, it is not fair to use affirmative action," Indra told reporters on the sidelines of a discussion about the eligibility of young candidates in the upcoming general elections.

The event was held by Barisan Muda Kosgoro 1957, the youth wing of the Golkar Party, at the Jakarta Media Center in Central Jakarta.

Indra said that, rather than just giving more seats to young people in the legislature, political parties needed to provide more access for young people to participate in the parties.

Many parties with dominant older-generation leaders, such as the Golkar Party, should begin the process of reform to avoid an exodus of younger members, Indra said.

"The parties rarely target the iPod and Friendster generation and there might be layers of distance between them."

A poll by the Democracy and Development Survey Institute in January 2007 showed that 50.29 percent of young voters would vote for a new party in any election.

"Many young people would choose to elect a new party because they are probably fed up with the established parties, or they know nothing about them," Indra told The Jakarta Post.

The survey also showed that the Democratic Party has the approval of 5.85 percent of young voters, the Democratic Party of Struggle has 3.5 percent, the Golkar Party has 2.34 percent, the National Awakening Party has 2.34 percent and the Prosperous Justice Party has 1.75 percent.

Syamsul Bahri, general secretary of Kosgoro, said that in the nation's history, young people had never had proportional representation in the legislature, adding that despite this their role was critical. (02)

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