Presidential threshold: the root of corrupted politicians

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Gede Sandra
Gede Sandra, A Lecturer at Bung Karno University

Jakarta, IO – Deputy Chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Alexander Marwata has pointed out the high cost of politics and elections in Indonesia. In a discussion that took place in Jakarta at the end of June, Marwata revealed the results of a KPK survey, which stated the estimated funds required to become a candidate for a level II Regional Head (Mayor/Regent) are IDR 20 to 30 billion. To become a Governor may take IDR 100 billion. 

Such a fantastic amount! Each Regent candidate would need a cukong —a financier—or several cukongs, to provide IDR 30 billion. It would be good news if the candidate for Regent were a successful businessman, which would enable him to fund the IDR 30 billion cost by himself. Or at least a candidate with IDR 30 billion worth of assets. 

But not all politicians or activists are that lucky. Most of them live or move on the street all their lives. Some teach, write, or even work professionally, yet their savings will not amount to tens of billions of rupiah. Therefore, they must find a cukong, successful entrepreneurs with a fat war chest. To invest in a Regent candidate, a cukong must at least have a spare IDR 100 billion in savings. Thus, for example, if he donates his IDR 30 billion to finance a candidate for a Regent, his IDR 30 billion contributions should not exceed 30 percent of his savings. Therefore, a cukong ideally will hold over IDR 100 billion. 

The next question: how many people can spare IDR 100 billion from their savings, for a political campaign? I interpolated the data belonging to the Deposit Insurance Corporation (LPS) for May 2022, which resulted in: 122 thousand accounts own deposits over IDR 5 billion, 52,298 accounts have over IDR 10 billion bank deposits in hand, 22,968 accounts holding IDR 20 billion, 7,808 accounts keeping over IDR 50 billion, 2,876 accounts are blessed with over IDR 100 billion, a lesser 1,034 accounts are in possession of IDR 200 billion, shrinking down to 265 accounts with over IDR 500 billion of saving deposits and only 63 accounts are the proud possessor of over IDR 1 trillion deposited in savings. 

Based on the data, only 2,876 accounts hold over IDR 100 billion, which means the prospects of all Pilkada (Regional Heads) candidates in 480 cities and regencies depend on the 2,876 cukongs. There may also be over 100 billion account owners who nominate themselves. While not all cukongs are that confident, they are sufficiently well off to finance politicians.