Three pieces of Rp.50 thousand denominations were received by Magdalena, not her real name, from the campaign team for the regional head candidate pair Toba Samosir, Poltak Sitorus and Tonny Simanjuntak. Magdalena's husband and in-laws also received Rp. 150 thousand each. The money was obtained by them a week before voting day on December 9, 2020. "The money is delivered to the house. "One family is divided depending on how many people can vote in the house," he told Jaring.id on Monday, January 11, 2020.
Not only received from pair number 1, the Magdalena family also received money from the incumbent pair, namely Darwin Siagian and Hulman Sitorus. The winning team for pair number 2 gave each of Rp. 50 thousand. For Magdalena, the regional head election at the end of last year was not an ideological choice but a transactional one. The family pocketed all the money without hesitation and agreed to vote on the partner who gave the more money. "At least one person must vote for the candidate who gives the least amount of money," he said.
Based on the plenary recapitulation and determination of the vote acquisition results, the General Election Commission (KPU) Toba Samosir appointed Poltak-Tonny as the pair receiving the most votes out of 63,945 voters. Meanwhile, candidate pair number 2 was able to get 41,949 votes.
What Magdalena experienced was one of the many political trades in the 2020 simultaneous regional elections. The latest research by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) after the 2020 Regional Head Election vote, last December 9, shows that 26.6 percent of respondents were offered money during the 2020 election campaign process. Of these, 21.9 percent claimed to have been offered money or goods 1 to 2 times and the remaining 4.7 percent said they were offered more than 2 times.
"Quite a few people claim to have received offers of money or goods," said Djayadi Hanan in the discussion of the survey results on Sunday, January 10, 2020.
Even so, the results of LSI's research did not show an increase in money politics during the pandemic. Djayadi said that around 29 percent of voters considered money politics as something normal. The majority of them, he said, also pocketed the money, but admitted to voting according to their personal wishes. "Both at the attitude and behavior level, citizens are quite tolerant of money politics. Efforts to socialize elections without money politics still have to be made, ”he said.
Executive Director of Indonesian Political Indicators, Burhanuddin Muhtadi, considered that the practice of money politics in the 2020 Pilkada was not only influenced by the permissiveness of voters. According to him, the Covid-19 pagebluk also influenced people to take money from the contestants. By the end of last year, the pandemic had left an estimated 2.56 million people out of work and more than 1.8 million people experiencing a decline in income. This motivates the public to take the offer of money rather than swallow campaign promises. Especially in areas that have high political competition, such as in West Java, East Java and North Sumatra. He said, each pair of candidates would ensure their victory by purchasing votes (vote buying).
Burhanuddin also assessed that the normalization of money politics practices in the community occurred as a result of many candidates relying on money politics. Based on the research he conducted in the 2006 and 2015 Pilkada, money politics in areas rich in natural resources such as Kalimantan and Sumatra tended to be higher compared to regions with low natural resources. This happens because many parties have an interest in who wins the elections.
“People in several areas in Kalimantan have a tolerance for money politics reaching 70 percent, but not because the people are moneylenders. Money money society because every candidate is practicing money politics, "he said.
However, according to him, not many cases were handled. Referring to data from the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu RI) on December 17, 2020, the handling of money politics cases was 262 cases. From this data, 197 of them were reported by the public and 65 other cases were the findings of Bawaslu. Burhan said that this figure is only the tip of the iceberg. "Is it due to legal weaknesses that we are unable to capture money politics or other factors?" he said.
The Board of Trustees of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) Titi Anggraini stated that the pandemic period which began in March 2020 made transactional politics unmonitored. Apart from the limited space for the public and election supervisors, there are also few law enforcement instruments to take action against money politics. “There are legal instruments but their effectiveness depends on the personnel in the field. Even though the personnel do not have the authority to take over the rules, "he said.
In fact, according to Titi, the rules for money politics in the Pilkada are far better than in the legislative and presidential elections. Article 187 A of Law 10 of 2016 concerning Concurrent Election of Regional Heads not only imposes penalties on the giver, but also the recipient. In addition, candidates who are caught giving money can be disqualified. However, Titi considered, Bawaslu did not have the instruments to execute violations in the field. Therefore, to prevent a similar thing from recurring in the next election, he proposed that law enforcement be carried out directly by the police, not by Bawaslu.
Meanwhile, regional autonomy expert, Djohermansyah Djohan, assessed that during the pandemic, the incumbent took advantage of the social assistance policy (bansos) to grab the attention of voters. According to him, candidates who have access to power can take advantage of social assistance to support their winning program. "Reports from the regional offices, they are asked to carry out program activities under the incumbent brand," he said.
In the future, the former Director General of Regional Autonomy at the Ministry of Home Affairs hopes that there will be an expansion of the meaning of the phrase money politics in the law related to general elections. In Law Number 10 of 2016, the meaning of money politics is formulated as an act of promising and / or giving money or other materials to influence election organizers and / or voters. According to him, the law must be able to identify all practices of money politics, including the use of government programs. "Money politics needs to be improved through electoral systems and processes, including from political parties," he said. (Deborah B. Sinambela)