Political golput

Kompas – July 6, 2023

From an oped piece by Sandro Gatra in Kompas.com titled 2024 Elections: Don't Underestimate Political Golput.

Sandro Gatra – The rate of "white group" (golput) – citizens who abstain from voting or do not use the right to vote – in elections during the reform era has tended to increase.

In the 1999 elections, the first held since reformasi – the political reform process that began in 1998 – golput was only 7.3 percent. That figure rose in the 2004 elections to 15.91 percent.

In the 2009 elections it increased sharply to 29.1 percent. Then, it decreased to 24.89 percent in the 2014 elections. It rose again to 29.68 percent in the 2019 elections.

Compared to the New Order era (Orba) of former president Suharto, the percentage of golput in the reform era is much higher. Six time the highest golput figure of 6.4 percent for the New Order era. This happened in the last elections held under Suharto in 1997.

I think this is natural given that political participation in the New Order era was mobilised in an authoritarian manner. People tended to be afraid if they did not use the right to vote.

This is different from the reform era where people are free to express their political rights. Not being present at the polling booth is not overshadowed by fear.

Golput has also emerged in presidential elections. In the 2009 presidential election it reached 28.09 percent and increased in the 2014 presidential election to 30.42 percent. Although in the 2019 presidential election there was a significant decrease to only 19.24 percent.

Indeed, golput does not affect the validity of the election. Elected House of Representative (DPR) and Regional House of Representative (DPRD) members remain valid and are still inaugurated. The elected presidential ticket also remains valid and are also inaugurated.

Nevertheless, political golput cannot be taken lightly.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski. The full article can be read here: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/07/06/07241801/pemilu-2024-jangan-remehkan-golput-politik.]