Institute for Economic and Social Research – Faculty of Economics and Business – Universitas Indonesia

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Voter Turnout in the 2020 Regional Elections in Indonesia: Do Voters Care About Health Risks?

Thursday March 21st, 2024

COVID-19 on Voter

Author: Yoshua Caesar Justinus, Teguh Dartanto, and Rus’an Nasrudin

Executive Summary

COVID-19, as an infectious disease, increases health risks and may potentially reduce political participation in general elections.  Nevertheless, existing empirical research has yielded inconclusive results. This study aims to estimate the impact of COVID-19 on political participation in the 2020 Regional Elections in Indonesia. Applying the Difference-in-Differences (DiD) method, Propensity Score Matching (PSM)-DiD, and First-Difference regression on panel data spanning 2015 and 2020, our investigation revealed significant insights. Firstly, we observed a strong negative correlation between COVID-19 and voter turnout, particularly in regions with increased COVID-19 cases witnessing reduced turnout. However, we did not find robust evidence to support a causal link between COVID-19 and decreased voter turnout. Secondly, the surge in turnout during the 2020 regional elections seems attributable to a time-related trend.  Thirdly, voter turnout positively correlates with regions featuring two or more competing candidates. Our study confirms that health risks do not necessarily deter political participation in Indonesia. The relatively lower awareness of health risks among the Indonesian population could influence the country’s approach to managing COVID-19 and the future potential disease outbreak.

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