Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | 17:49 WIB

The people have chosen their leader Time to come together and build our nation

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Jakarta, IO – 2024 is indeed the year of elections. Not just for Indonesia, but also globally. Some even dub it the “biggest global election year in history”. This is a special year for many democratic governments, because it is estimated that some 4 billion people in more than 50 countries, accounting for half of the world’s population, will go to the polls. As an illustration, of the 10 countries with the largest populations in the world, seven of them will hold general elections in 2024: India, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia and Mexico. 

The national leadership succession in many countries certainly increases political heat. Moreover, the geopolitical and geoeconomic situation, post-pandemic, is still mired in uncertainty. However, Indonesia was able to maintain a growth rate of 5.05 percent in 2023, despite the global economic headwinds caused by rising geopolitical tensions, stubbornly high inflation in developed countries, and fiscal and debt vulnerabilities in developing countries. Thus, to maintain this positive momentum, national solidarity is needed on the part of the contesting parties after the 2024 general elections (GE2024). 

Even though it has become a routine five-yearly agenda, there are two things that made GE2024 unique and of more vital significance. 

First, elections took place amidst a global economic slowdown. As an inseparable part of the global society, the impact of declining global demand, due to the still ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Fed’s dovish interest rate shift, and the effects of post-pandemic economic recovery, will continue to present challenges for the global economy in 2024. Therefore, Indonesia’s economic growth will rely heavily on domestic household spending, which requires a conducive political climate. 

Second, it is the second round of simultaneous presidential and legislative elections, which will be followed by regional elections in November. The increasingly heavy burden of holding elections needs to be anticipated with extra caution and better implementation. 

On February 14, nearly 200 million voters in Indonesia exercised their right to vote. The “festival of democracy” is over. Even though we are still waiting for the official results to be announced by the General Elections Commission (KPU) after the vote counting and recapitulation is completed, it can be said that GE2024 has so far been held much more safely, smoothly and in a more conducive manner compared to the previous two elections. 

In my view, there are at least two factors that explain this. First, a shorter campaign period. KPU Regulation (PKPU) 15/2023 on 2024 elections campaign only prescribes 75 days for campaigning, compared to GE2019 which lasted six months. This measure aims to reduce the potential for conflict at the grassroots level and prevent extreme polarization as what we saw in GE2019. 

Second, the polarization was also reduced due to the three-way race, unlike GE2019 where there were only two contenders. Moreover, in each camp the candidate pair was supported by parties in the government coalition. Anies-Muhaimin was supported by PKB and NasDem, Prabowo-Gibran by Gerindra, Golkar and PAN, while Ganjar-Mahfud by PDI-P and PPP. 

In addition, none of the three presidential pairs exclusively represented a certain religious community. This mixing changed the battle landscape, as there was not one candidate pair who could make the claim. Instead, each of them sought support from diverse groups outside their traditional voter bases. These factors have at least reduced the level of tension and friction in society. 

We also need to appreciate the improved management, especially in the aspect of local poll administrators (KPPS) personnel recruitment and a reduced number of voters at each polling station, which prevented overcrowding and reduced fatality rate among KPPS personnel arising from excess fatigue. 

We should be grateful for the largely successful holding of GE2024 and maintain the conducive situation, because this is critical in improving the quality of Indonesia’s democracy which has strengthened in the past three years. According to the Indonesian Democracy Index (IDI), Indonesia even scored 80.41 (good) for the first time in 2022. 

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