A celebration of democracy should be joyful, not hateful

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Executive Director of Indonesia Political Review (IPR) Ujang Komarudin. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – Deputy Chairman of House Legislation Body Achmad Baidowi revealed that the hefty expense a candidate must spend to contest in the 2020 Regional Election (Pilkada) on December 9 arouses concern about money politics. Furthermore, campaign restrictions have forced them to be ‘creative’ in order to attract voters. “People were obliged to observe the health protocols, like wearing masks, during the campaign so it was very costly,” said the Achmad in a virtual discussion themed “2021: The Real Political Year”, Tuesday (5/1). 

The Secretary of the United Development Party (PPP) Faction also mentioned the failure of Bawaslu to detect money politics, indulged in by a number of regional head candidates. “Of course, when the contestants are being smart it can be a challenge to catch them red-handed practicing money politics. It’s like wind. You can feel it but you don’t see it,” he analogized. 

Achmad, who hails from the East Java electoral district, said that there was also indication of bureaucracy politization in the 2020 Pilkada that may happen when the incumbent regional head is running. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, the government-enacted social assistance program has benefited incumbent candidates or those seen as close affiliates of the incumbent. When someone receives government assistance, of course they will feel grateful and may reciprocate by giving their vote. That’s why we see a majority of incumbent candidates were victorious in the regional elections,” he added. 

Achmad pointed out that even though incumbent candidates could attempt money politics, many also failed, like in Ponorogo, Kuantan, and Majene. “Because in this situation the communities benefit, even though it is disguised with the pretext to avoid violating election rules, not as Pilkada assistance but using other instruments, and Bawaslu may not detect this,” he explained. 

Separately, Executive Director of Indonesia Political Review (IPR) Ujang Komarudin responded to the likelihood that President Joko Widodo’s eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who unexpectedly won the Solo mayoral election, will contest in the Jakarta election, even the 2024 presidential election. “In politics, nothing is impossible. So when Gibran is seen as a dark horse candidate for the Jakarta governor election, likely to be held in 2022, it’s just normal in politics,” he opined. 

Achmad, who also lectures at Al-Azhar University, believes there is a good reason why President Jokowi in his second term ‘supports’ the candidacy of his son and son-in-law Bobby Nasution in the 2020 Pilkada. “I presume Pak Jokowi has a political target in his mind,” he speculated. 

Thus, Ujang said, it is possible that Gibran will contest in the Jakarta election and even the presidential election in 2024. But when the ‘crown prince’ will be victorious or not depend of the shifting ‘political wind’ ahead. “In Indonesia, anything can. Tell me what’s not allowed here? I can only think of two things, smoking at a gas station for fear of explosion and entering a mosque wearing shoes or sandals,” he said half-jokingly.  

Furthermore, Ujang bemoaned the fact that in almost every Pilkada, legislative election (Pileg) and presidential election (Pilpres) the political tension between rivaling camps is very high. This should not have happened, because according to Ujang an election as a celebration of democracy should be filled with joy, not mudslinging or uncovering other’s dirt. “Let’s raise awareness for the young generation, conveying to them that every democracy ritual, whether pilkada, pileg or pilpres, should be enlightening with a contest of ideas and give new hope to the people who vote for the candidates who entrust them with the mandate to lead for five years. Not a hostile, unhealthy competition, which is far from the essence of democracy. If these would-be leaders understand the true meaning of democracy, they should also readily accept the election results, whether they win or lose, with open heart,” he concluded. (dan)