Election Commission Chairman: Parties Can Prevent Identity Politics

 Identity politics has tarnished Indonesian politics in recent years. The lack of firmness of law enforcement officers and election administrators in taking action against this practice is considered to be one of the causes. The People’s Representative Council (DPR) even accused them of neglecting this presumptuous practice.

Ahead of the 2024 election, identity politics is expected to be even more rampant. When inaugurating members of the General Election Commission (KPU) and the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) on April 12, 2022, Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned that election organizers should prevent identity politics from occurring.

How did the KPU respond to this? The following is an excerpt from Jaring.id’s interview with the KPU Chief Commissioner Hasyim Asy’ari on Monday, June 6, 2022.

Question (Q) : In the lead up to the election, the potential for the use of identity politics is getting stronger. How did the KPU respond to it?

Answer (A) : It must be understood that elections and local elections are arenas of conflict that are considered legal and legitimate to gain or maintain power. That is, the election is a conflict itself.

The method taken (to gain or maintain power) can be persuasive, yet it can be repressive. It can be violent, both verbal and physical. The issues being used also vary. It can be based on ethnicity, race, religion, class. That’s very possible.

Therefore, it is necessary to have an instrument that regulates the prohibition of campaigning by raising these issues. The principle of the election is free. If you use violence, whether physical or verbal, the principles of free, honest, fair and secret elections will not be achieved.

Q: Do you think the rules to prevent this are strong enough?

A: In the context of elections, we can implement the Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning General Elections. Meanwhile, in the context of regional head elections, we have Law Number 16 of 2016 concerning Regional Head Elections.

Formally, this (rule) is a product of the House of Representatives (DPR), which was discussed with the government. Therefore, there must be a representative aspect. If there is a mutual agreement, then there must be a commitment to comply, including to the prohibition that has the potential to injure the principle of the election in the first place.

Q: What if identity politics is used before the election stage?

A: There should be no legal vacuum. Before entering the campaign stage, there are criminal law instruments. If someone insults another person, it will be legally processed using the general criminal law.

Q: In the Hearing Meeting (RDP) between the Police and Commission III of the DPR, it was stated that sentiments of ethnicity, religious and race, intolerance, and radicalism are challenges for the 2024 elections. How will the KPU respond to these challenges?

A: The KPU may not act beyond the limits of the law. We can take preventive measures, but the KPU is not the only one doing it. We are actually just implementing the electoral aspects of the election. Other parties who can be invited (to prevent) are community leaders, religious leaders, and the media.

In my opinion, as long as the public can be educated and such unwanted actions can be prevented, it is much more effective than law enforcement. Many stakeholders can do it, such as religious leaders, parents, teachers, and community leaders.

Stakeholders need to collaborate to prevent identity politics. The goal is to build a peaceful democracy.

Q: What are the other obstacles and challenges facing the KPU today?

A: In the elections, there must be voters and election participants. Making sure which citizens have the right to vote and are included in the voting list is not an easy job, even though the system is getting better.

There should be proper field research for factual verification and identity validation. Wrong name or date of birth can result in loss of voting rights.

If the population is highly mobile, we will have problems ensuring a permanent voter list (DPT). The potential for inaccuracies is also very possible. We should keep the data accurate. This is not an easy task.

In addition to the permanent voter list, there is also a problem with ballots. Currently, there are 2,993 electoral districts (dapil). In each electoral district, there will be many candidates competing. Each electoral district is different because they have to choose the President, members of the DPR, and regional heads. This is a consequence of the electoral system that must be followed. There should be a template for printing ballots with the names of different candidates. There should neither be any errors in printing the names.

Overseas Voters’ Turnout Shrink

Binti Rosidah is one of more than 1.6 million Indonesians living and working in Malaysia. She has been working as a domestic worker in Kuala

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