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INDONESIA POLLS: Parties fail to deliver plans, programs during campaign

Publication Date : 09-04-2014

 

Free dangdut (a genre of Indonesian popular music that is partly derived from Hindustani, Malay and Arabic music) concerts with sexy singers entertaining the masses and personal insults being flung among the elite are the two most significant highlights of the recent election campaign in Indonesia, making it the worst in the Reform Era.

Indonesians have seen three elections during this time, which started in 1998 after the end of the New Order regime. In each of these elections, there were substantial issues that political parties often brought up during campaigns.

In 1999, the main issue before the public was past human rights violations. The next election in 2004 brought forth the issue of democratic reconciliation to allow the state to function properly for the prosperity of its people and in 2009 the main concern was good governance and corruption eradication.

Democracy in Indonesia, however, seems to have taken a major reversion to the past in the fourth election to be held in the fully democratic era. During the campaign not a single party produced any future policies on such issues as taxation, energy development, food sufficiency, human rights or corruption eradication.

“Campaign events are being used merely as free concerts without any substantial issues being discussed. The situation is made worse by the fact that few political party members have received any proper political education from their respective parties, which eventually renders them incapable of educating the public on major issues,” Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) political observer Siti Zuhro said in Jakarta on Monday.

Siti added that parties preferred to hold free dangdut concerts rather than delivering substantive issues because they believed those kinds of campaigns would receive a better response from the Indonesian masses, which are mostly from the lower economic and educational segments.

Separately, Charta Politika political analyst Yunarto Wijaya said the legislative election had lost much of its relevance because the political parties and the public were already geared up for the presidential election, a situation which had been triggered by Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) move to nominate Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as its presidential candidate.

“Everyone has been affected by the Jokowi effect, including the political parties,” Yunarto told The Jakarta Post.

“Therefore, it is not surprising to see a lack of program or policies in the campaigns because everyone is already focusing on the presidential election,” he added.

Despite the apparent poor quality of campaigns in the current election, both Siti and Yunarto said that there were some positive notes that could be taken from the civic exercise.

“We are now seeing a trend of volunteerism. This is a new trend in which individuals are volunteering to support legislative and presidential candidates whom they believe have a good track record and commitment to the country,” Siti said.

Meanwhile, Yunarto said that the public had also shown signs of becoming more politically aware and smarter in dealing with political parties during campaigns.

“The public are no longer easily fooled by political promises. They have managed to achieve a degree of scepticism about politicians and their promises while at the same time keeping their minds open,” Yunarto said.

“They may still enjoy the concerts and entertainment but they no longer base their decisions only on those factors any more,” he added.

 

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