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'Poor' candidates in Indonesia rely on friends

Publication Date : 01-04-2014


Struggling with financial constraints, a Regional Representatives Council (DPD) candidate from Papua is forced to depend heavily on the support of friends and colleagues to run his campaign ahead of this month’s legislative election.

With only 20 million rupiah (US$1,760) in his pocket, 30-year-old Habelino Sawaki said he had received significant “moral” and “material” support from the many people he knew from his long-time experience as a student activist.

“There’s not much I can do with my campaign budget. But luckily, I have many friends who have helped me arrange gatherings with potential voters and produce my campaign materials,” he said.

Some of his friends, according to Habelino, even collected some money to buy him an airplane ticket, while others, who are themselves short of cash, helped him by giving him lifts to his campaign venues.

Papua and West Papua are the country’s two easternmost provinces, composed of 29 regencies. Data from the General Elections Commission (KPU) shows that the two provinces have a combined total of 3.2 million registered voters.

Twenty-five candidates are contesting for four seats in the Papua DPD, and Habelino is the youngest among them as well as possessing the smallest campaign fund.

The former chairman of the Jayapura-based Cenderawasih University student union earned a master’s degree from the Jakarta-based Indonesian Defense University, making him the only Papuan to have so far graduated from the institution

The lack of adequate infrastructure is the main challenge for legislative candidates running election campaigns in Papua, especially in the province’s more remote areas.

Golkar Party lawmaker Yorrys Raweyai, for example, said he had spent more than 500 million rupiah on his reelection bid in the province, adding that most of the amount went on transportation costs.

“I and my team have to visit many remote areas during the campaign period, many of which can only be reached by plane,” Yorrys said.

Meanwhile, 114 politicians are campaigning to win one of 10 seats on offer in the Papua Legislative Council (DPRD).

In the 2009 election, Golkar and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party became the province’s two largest parties after each managed to secure three DPRD seats. One of each of the four remaining seats were won by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Hanura Party.

Although he knows his chances of winning are slim, Habelino believes his participation in this year’s election will inspire more young people in Papua to enter politics.



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