Saturday, April 20, 2024 | 12:11 WIB

Incumbent political luxury and 2019 presidential election cheaters

IO – As an incumbent in the 2019 Presidential Election, President Jokowi enjoys various political luxuries (incumbent advantages). Among these are popularity, political parties’ support, political and oligarch financier support, media attention, and access and control over resources. A number of luxury attributes are effective means of cheating and buying and selling (vote buying), which are better known as money politics in our daily lives.

Regarding popularity, the figure of President Jokowi is certainly well known to the people, including in remote areas. According to various surveys, President Jokowi’s popularity level is almost 100 percent, the highest among national political figures, including the challenger presidential candidate, Prabowo Subiyanto. This almost perfect popularity is a logical consequence of President Jokowi’s position as incumbent. During the 4.5 years since his inauguration in October 2014, the incumbent presidential candidate’s coming down to various parts of the country has become a media darling, and a kind of selling of various development programs in the name of the interests and benefit of the people.

The presumption of success of incumbents is also an electoral incentive for President Jokowi. Despite many broken promises with poor performance, President Jokowi is still considered to be working with tangible results which benefits are felt by the people. This is illustrated by the high results of several community satisfaction surveys, in the range of 60 to 70 percent before voting on April 17, 2019.

The perceptional level of public satisfaction (approval rating) is inversely proportional to the multidimensional reality that continues to deteriorate. The sluggish economy with a low growth of around 5%,  skyrocketing state debt, freedom threatened and democracy plummeting 20 ranks at the global level, happiness rate has fallen sharply among 156 countries, slower poverty reduction, acute inequality with the richest 1% having seized 50% of state wealth, corruption rampant and oligarchy extensive, social cohesion ripped apart, and discriminatory law enforcement.

Meanwhile, the attitude of some voters who do not dare to take the risk of changing leadership is directly proportional to the level of satisfaction based on perception. Less politically literate voter groups, including urban educated groups, tend to be comfortable with the status-quo, supporting the continued power of incumbents. Without adequate political literacy to assess the performance of incumbents, they enjoy a comfort zone, as it is. The changes in leadership are often interpreted as a threat to their interests and established conditions.

Accordingly, incumbents have almost unlimited control and access to available resources. Under the command of the president as the head of state and head of government, the bureaucracy at all levels generally benefits incumbents. Securing a position or respecting the culture of patronage is often the reason for the bureaucracy’s compliance and support of incumbents. Although the State Civil Service (ASN) is mandated to stay neutral in the presidential election event, in fact they were mobilized massively to work toward a win for the incumbent presidential candidate.

At the central level, the ministers and high-ranking officials of the state were supported by the bureaucratic apparatus under them became the shadow of National Campaign Team (TKN) for the incumbent presidential candidate, who fought behind the scenes. There is a division of duties from the Palace towards cabinet members to carry out covert campaigns in a number of regions with various modes, utilizing the official visit agenda or government programs under their authority. The inauguration, launch and submission of central government assistance programs was carried out in a marathon before April 2019. The responsibility of the state to fulfill people’s rights through various services and programs managed by the central government was claimed as Jokowi’s presidential candidate personal assistance and compassion

Several cabinet members conducted fundraising and votes for Jokowi’s presidential candidates openly and vulgarly. Towards the voting day on April 17, Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan (LBP) gave an envelope to an elderly cleric (kiai) while visiting one of the Islamic boarding schools in Bangkalan Madura while asking the kiai to invite the people to vote for candidate pair number 01. Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita allegedly raised funds through hard to perceive trade policy instrument. This week, the Minister of Trade, Enggartiasto’s office was raided by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) following the recognition of a member of the Indonesian Parliament from the Golkar Party, Bowo Sidik Pangarso, the suspected bribery for fertilizer transportation, that some of the billions of rupiah seized by the KPK came from the Minister of Trade. The KPK arrested Bowo Sidik through a red-handed arrest (OTT) at the end of March and seized evidence of Rp8 billion in money which was divided into 400 thousand envelopes for the sake of the presidential election.

In some regions, the bureaucratic apparatus was exploited by regional heads, especially the regional heads who were trapped in hostage politics of President Jokowi, to secure the position of the incumbent presidential candidate. It has become an open secret: a number of regional heads allegedly involved in corruption cases approached the incumbent. The regional heads of political asylum seekers hope to survive the force of the law. For the regional head of the opposition line, all forms of political acrobatics were played, suddenly turned around in sharp turns, defected from the group themselves.

The most prominent defector is Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB), the former NTB Governor who announced his support for President Jokowi in mid-2018 after the KPK investigated allegations of corruption in the sale of shares of PT. Newmont Nusa Tenggara. Other defectors who were allegedly trapped as President Jokowi’s political hostages include North Maluku Governor Abdul Ghani Kasuba from PKS, who crossed into PDIP. Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, a Democratic Party cadre, suspected of being involved in various corruption scandals, announced his support for President Jokowi after being re-elected in 2018. The Governor of West Sumatra, Irwan Prayitno, the PKS politician and member of the Prabowo success team in 2014, also turned around, supporting President Jokowi.

There is still a long line of politicians or regional heads who have approached and defected to the incumbent from late 2018 to early 2019. Some of them in mass in various regions made a declaration of support for incumbent presidential candidates. Even openly mobilizing village heads to support Jokowi.

It is hard to believe the support and defection of regional heads is not related to efforts to seek political protection from incumbents for alleged legal cases faced. Or at the very least, pragmatic reasons in order to secure their power with the assumption that incumbents are more likely to win with all their political luxuries, even if they justify any means. They did not realize that the luxury of incumbent’s politics, if it is not managed properly, could be an electoral boomerang for the incumbent. This can be seen from the stagnation and decreasing electability of Jokowi’s presidential candidates before the voting.

President Jokowi also used the police and prosecutors to criminalize critical parties and disseminate disinformation with the government. All tactics are used ranging from engineering hate speech to the pornography article. Various negative stamps such as slander and hoax spreaders, anti-diversity and Pancasila are pinned to parties who have different views from the authorities.

Entanglement with the Pornography Law: Habib Rizieq Shihab (HRS) became a victim. Dozens of other figures and 212 activists were slandered and arrested on charges of treason without clear evidence. Ustadz Abdul Somad (UAS) was also persecuted and banned because he was not friendly with the authorities. Even UAS was vilified viciously following its support to vice presidential candidate 02 a few days before the election day.

Towards the end of 2017 and early 2018, there were a number of cases of attacks and persecution of religious leaders in various places in East Java and West Java. Instead of a series of terror cases with systematic patterns and targets that tend to be uniformly investigated thoroughly, the culprit is inflicted on people who suffer from mental disorders (crazy). Then the investigation and the solution just evaporated.

The #2019GantiPresiden ( #2019 Change President) movement, which is guaranteed by the constitution and in the corridor of the legislation regarding elections, was prohibited on provocative accusations and has the potential to disrupt community harmony. While the #Jokowi2Periode (#Jokowi2PeriodMovement) was allowed to even be facilitated. #2019GantiPresiden such as Mardani Ali Sera, Neno Warisman, Ahmad Dani were terrorized and persecuted in several places by incumbent support groups in the name of local people’s rejection. Ahmad Dani was imprisoned only for saying ‘idiot’, while dozens of camps and supporters of the incumbent presidential candidate were untouched by the law despite spewing out all kinds of slander, hoaxes and speeches of hatred.

Universities also did not escape the pressure to tackle the opposition camp to hold discussions on campus, although the theme of the discussion was not related to the presidential election event. In October 2018, the National Seminar on the Leadership of the Millennium Era at UGM was canceled because of the speaker was from the challenger camp. Candidates and vice-president of challengers were prohibited from visiting and talking on campus, schools, boarding schools and other educational institutions, except for incumbents.

Incumbent fraud was enhanced by buying and selling votes in various forms, direct and indirect, open and closed. While visiting the area, President Jokowi likes to bribe people by quiz guessing the names of fish or islands with bicycle prizes, and also often for envelopes and throwing books from the presidential car.

The one which was more massive and has significant enough electoral impact is the distribution of land certificates in the name of agrarian reform and the expansion of the scope and increase in the value of the benefits of social assistance programs without careful study and planning. The sale of various social assistance program cards has become a “trademark” of President Jokowi. More than Rp600 trillion was spent on social protection for 4 years, but the number of poor people decreased by only 515,000 per year, far below the average rate of decline in the previous government era, which reached 960,000 people per year, on a much smaller budget.

To secure village support, the village budget has increased sharply since 2015, with a total of around Rp.190 trillion until 2018. However, the impact on improving people’s welfare in the village has not yet been seen. Instead of increasing welfare, the real wages of farm workers in the countryside continued to fall during the 4 years of Jokowi’s administration.

At the end of March 2019, two weeks before the voting day, President Jokowi gathered village heads throughout Indonesia in Jakarta on behalf of Kegiatan Silaturahmi Nasional (Silatnas) Pemerintahan Desa Seluruh Indonesia (the Village Government’s National Gathering). This activity is inseparable from the electoral interests of incumbent candidates in the 2019 Presidential Election. Suddenly, President Jokowi also budgeted Rp3 trillion for the village district in the 2019 State Budget.

Furthermore, as reported by on October 17 2018, the incumbent presidential candidate raised campaign funds from tycoons by selling government programs. This mode is in line with the physical infrastructure project that became President Jokowi’s development commander. In addition to being a means of reciprocation for political brokers, physical infrastructure projects are a shortcut to show false success in the eyes of the people with low levels of political literacy.

President Jokowi’s vote sale is complemented by the acceleration of the signing of the government regulations (PP) on the granting of holiday allowances (THR) and 13th salary for civil servants, military, police and retirees. This THR and 13th salary will be disbursed in May 2019, earlier than usual.

With the above note, there is no doubt that there has been fraud in the 2019 Presidential Election which is structured, systematic and massive (TSM). Fraud on the voting day and after the voting were only a big fragment of the 2019 Presidential election fraud. If various forms of brutal fraud were carried out openly for almost 5 years, cheating during the voting and after the voting would definitely occur.

The current presidential election becomes a black spot on the journey of our democracy. The dirtiest celebration of electoral democracy in Indonesian political history. If this fraud is left unchecked, a democracy that is already dying, will become just a name. The people together with virtue fighters and democracy activists must unite against and stop this undemocratic evil!