Civil Society Coalition says not voting or advocating golput not a crime

Detik News – January 23, 2019
Civil Society Coalition members – January 23, 2019 (Tribune)
Civil Society Coalition members – January 23, 2019 (Tribune)

Ibnu Hariyanto, Jakarta – In the lead up to the 2019 presidential and legislative elections in April a movement has emerged promoting golput or white movement, meaning those who do not vote for any one of the candidates. Does this violate the law?

“In the 2017 UU Pemilu [Election Law], there is no prohibition against golput. Actually there isn’t [even] a prohibition against campaigning for golput”, said former Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) director Alghiffari Aqsa during a discussion titled Golput is a Right, Not a Crime at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) offices on Jl. Diponegoro in the Menteng suburb of Central Jakarta on Wednesday January 23.

Aqsa, who now works as a public defender and has joined the Civil Society Coalition, then highlighted the contents of Article 515 of Law Number 7/2017 on Elections. This is what it reads:

Any person who intentionally on election day promises to or gives money or other material goods to a voter so that they do not use their right to vote or to vote for a particular candidate or to use their right to vote in a manner such that their vote is invalid, shall be sentenced to a maximum of three years jail and a maximum fine of 36 million rupiah.

“Thus, without there being a promise or giving money or material goods, the act of simply motivating people to golput cannot be prosecuted”, said Aqsa.

Also speaking at the discussion, LBH Jakarta Director Arif Maulana said that golput is a political expression under democracy and this, according to Maulana, is protected under Law Number 39/1999 on Human Rights.

“Voters don’t have to vote for one or two [the numbers 01 and 02 assigned to the two presidential candidate tickets]. Voting means being able to have other options and I think that the option of not voting is a choice. It is part of [democratic] expression”, said Maulana.

Earlier on January 15 in Jakarta, a group of young people who said they were students from a higher-education institution in Jakarta declared themselves as the Golput Millennials. They said that they were disappointed with the two tickets contesting the 2019 presidential election (pilpres) and would not therefore vote.

Golput Millennials coordinator Bagas Deny Saputra claimed that they are not advocating that the public golput. According to Saputra however, Golput Millennial members represent a groups of young people who are confused about who to vote for because they are faced with two presidential candidates whose political campaigns are unclear.

In addition to this, there is an unpleasant situation on social media which is ridden with hatred and hostilities which they cited as one of the triggers for the movement.

“This event is a gathering of young people who are still confused and still lamenting, who are anxious, like ‘Who will I vote for in the pilpres, yeah? But why is all their campaigning like this, yeah? There isn’t any candidates that are explaining what they are, what they will do’”, said Saputra. (ibh/dhn)


GolputGolongan Putih or White Group. The term first emerged as a campaign by students in the 1971 elections and derives its name from marking the white section of the ballot paper rather than a party symbol or candidate’s picture thereby making the vote invalid. In recent years the term has broadened to include not just intentionally casting an invalid vote but also vote abstention.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Koalisi Sipil: Kampanye Golput Tak Langgar UU dan Tak Bisa Dipidana”.]