Opinion festival in Indonesia

10. Dec 2023

At the end of October, Indonesia hosted the third edition of a nationwide festival of opinion, attended by nearly 4000 people. The inspiration for the festival came from Estonia.

Citizen OS, a civic association that started in Estonia and has now acquired an international dimension, has a legally registered office in Indonesia from 2022. Citizen OS Indonesia organises various democracy projects and engagement events across the country, including a nationwide festival of opinion. The idea to organise an opinion festival came to Citizen OS Indonesia’s leader Agustina Iskandar Crombach, from Bali, when she was visiting Estonia, where she heard about the concept of the opinion festival and met several of its leaders.

“In 2020, Indonesia’s Democracy Index dropped and several surveys showed that people’s courage to express their opinions has decreased. I attended the Opinion Festival in Estonia virtually and it really resonated with me. It made me realise that as citizens we also need to create a space where people can express themselves, where there is a good and safe culture of debate and where there is no fear of being sanctioned for speaking out more critically,” said Crombach. Young people are the main target group of the Indonesian opinion festival, as Crombach sees young people as too marginalised from society and decision-making processes.

Topics covered included youth and the upcoming elections in 2024, women in politics, critical thinking and artificial intelligence, financial and social capital and empathy, freedom of expression, the impact of lifestyle on climate change, etc.

The Indonesian Opinion Festival took place from 24-29 October, both online and offline in Bali, Java and Aceh. The event was attended by government leaders, civil society leaders, youth and local community representatives. More than 200 volunteers were mobilised to organise the event.

Citizen OS is a civic association created in Estonia with an international dimension, aiming to increase people’s interest and capacity to participate in decision-making processes through new technologies. Citizen OS organises training and development programmes on democracy and provides a free, open-access e-participation and decision-making platform to improve the culture of debate and decision-making worldwide.