“Money Politics” on the Presidential Threshold

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Gede Sandra
Gede Sandra, A Lecturer at Bung Karno University

Jakarta, IO – Money politics is spreading like wildfire. It plays a paramount role in the elections of village heads, regents, governors and presidents. The public has become familiar with “serangan fajar”, a local term for money politics. Banknotes of Rp 20k, Rp 50k and Rp 100k are customarily dispensed a few hours before the voting time. 

This is merely chump change compared to the future that the voters sacrifice. Take the legislative elections as an example. By voting for a competent political party, poor and unemployed voters can receive social assistance of Rp 500k to 1 million every month if the political party is in power, because the welfare state ideology fought for by the said party pushes a system like social security. 

Logically, receiving Rp 1 million every month for five years will be much more lucrative than receiving a one-off Rp 200k that results in a more difficult life for the next five years. Unfortunately, this long-term logic is not popular in the community, because the people tend to use a pragmatic logic: to get money as soon as possible, no matter what lies ahead. 

Consequently, the party aspiring for a welfare state is not elected, because the voters considered it a small, new, penniless and frugal party. When the party does not choose to stoop to money politics, the public does not take a liking to it. They prefer to vote for political parties that give them quick cash. 

No matter how idealistic the person is, most Indonesians will feel uncomfortable if they do not return the favor after receiving money. Hence, candidates from parties that diligently “spend money” before the election will definitely get the votes. Let alone when the people are hungry: they will take any amount offered. An irony, indeed. The more impoverished people live in an area, the bigger the opportunity a shady party will win. Regrettably, there are still many poor people in Indonesia.