Monday, June 17, 2024 | 14:54 WIB

Time to Move On House inquiry: Aspiration of the People or Will of the Political Elite?

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“There were 946,089 conversations on February 23. On online news media there were 18,556,” Ismail revealed in a press conference on Saturday (24/2). 

In total, there were 964,645 recorded conversations about election fraud from February 14-23, most of them (720,538) contained negative sentiments, 165,571 positive and 78,537 neutral. 

Among those who harbored negative sentiments, many talked about charges of widespread, systemic, and structural fraud, which was followed by talk of parliamentary investigation and presidential impeachment. Voter tampering is another hot topic. 

It’s interesting to note that the notion of election fraud has been refuted based on the results of multiple survey organizations. Lembaga Survei Indonesia (LSI) conducted an opinion poll with 1,211 respondents on February 19–21, and the majority of Indonesians (60.5%) disagreed with the statement that the 2024 elections were tainted by rampant fraud. 

The poll also found that the perception mostly originated from partisan groups or supporters of certain presidential candidates. Of the group of respondents who voted for Anies-Muhaimin, 38.1 percent agreed versus 16.9 percent disagreed. Among those who voted for Ganjar-Mahfud, 25.4 percent agreed versus 12 percent disagreed. On the contrary, among those who voted for Prabowo-Gibran, 36.5 percent agreed versus 71 percent disagreed. 

Meanwhile, survey by Indikator Politik Indonesia found that the disbursement of social assistance (bansos) in the form of 10-kg bag of rice and direct cash assistance (BLT) apparently did not have a vote-boosting effect on candidate pair No 2, Prabowo-Gibran. 

Among the respondents who received bansos, 59.7 percent voted for Prabowo-Gibran, 23 percent voted for Anies-Muhaimin and 17.3 percent voted for Ganjar-Mahfud. This figure is not much different than those who never received bansos at all, where 56.9 percent voted for Prabowo-Gibran, compared with 27 percent for Anies-Muhaimin and 16.1 percent for Ganjar-Mahfud. 

However, according to Indikator executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi, the effect of bansos distribution during the campaign period merits further research because there is a possibility that satisfaction with President Jokowi’s performance translated to more votes for Prabowo-Gibran. 

Second target: Political elite 

Jim McDermott, a US politician was once quoted as saying: “I think it’s a trial balloon to see what happens, and I’m not impressed with it.” 

The second target, namely the political elite, is more interesting. It is very likely that the inquiry discourse is a political communication strategy called a trial balloon. It works by deliberately throwing the discourse to the public, to observe and map their reaction. Politicians use trial balloons to conduct open diplomacy. An issue is deliberately raised to see the reaction of other politicians or parties, whether they are interested or not. If interested, behind-the-scenes lobbying will then take place. 

Ganjar Pranowo’s statement, where he pushed for a House inquiry, has gone viral. Many elites and political parties took turns commenting on the discourse. I found the reaction from NasDem chair Surya Paloh particularly interesting. Initially, it seemed that NasDem did not respond positively to the idea. However, after Surya Paloh and President Jokowi met at the State Palace, he became quite vocal about the likelihood. 

During the campaign period, Surya was not too active. As the chairman of the party that first nominated Anies Baswedan, Surya was rarely seen at the Coalition for Change’s key moments. The question is, why now? 

I believe Surya’s claim to be a calculated political ploy. His attendance at the Palace was perhaps an attempt at political lobbying. But when things did not go as planned, he attempted to play the situation by feigning support for the parliamentary investigation. 

David Spanier in his article ‘Poker: Bluff Way to Play Game of Politics’ explains that just like in the game of poker, bluffing in politics is also intended to gain an advantage or to intimidate an opponent. In politics, this strategy is usually employed in negotiation. 

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