Golput discussion hears why people are choosing not to vote

CNN Indonesia – January 23, 2019
Widodo and vice presidential running mate Ma’ruf Amin (Antara)
Widodo and vice presidential running mate Ma’ruf Amin (Antara)

Jakarta – Disappointment with incumbent presidential candidate President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is one of the reasons why people are choosing not to vote or golongan putih (white group, golput) in the 2019 presidential election.

One of the people feeling this sense of dissatisfaction is Asean Sogie Caucus member Lini Zurlia.

“Yet I voted for him in the last election”, said Zurlia in a discussion titled Golput is a Right and Not a Crime on the afternoon of Wednesday January 23 at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) offices in Jakarta.

Zurlia has a list of things which have made her feel disappointed with Widodo. One of them was his choice of vice presidential running mate (cawapres) Ma’ruf Amin.

“The choice of cawapres emerged from the ulama [Islamic clerics] for the sake of garnering votes from the other group [Muslim voters supporting Widodo’s rival Prabowo Subianto]. Clearly he was involved in triggering inter-group conflict not long ago [during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election]”, she said.

The choice of Amin was indeed ridden with controversy. Some sections of the public were shocked by Widodo’s announcement of Amin as his running mate in the final minutes before they registered with the General Election Commission (KPU). Prior to this there were strong rumors circulating that Widodo would choose former Constitutional Court judge Mahfud MD.

This was confirmed by Mahfud himself who even admitted that he had been asked to prepare appropriate clothing to wear when he went with Widodo to the KPU to register.

Mahfud’s candidacy failed at the last minute after Widodo decided to choose Amin. Mafud later revealed that during the process of choosing a running mate, Widodo received political threats from coalition political parties.

Amin himself is a prominent Muslim leader. He is currently the chairperson of the peek Islamic religious body the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI).

Two years ago when former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was charged with blasphemy, Amin signed a fatwa [edict] by the MUI stating that Purnama had insulted the Koran and ulama. Amin was also one of the prosecution’s witnesses who testified against Purnama during his trial.

The fatwa and Amin’s testimony against Purnama was one of the triggers for the massive Defend Islam actions in Jakarta demanding that Purnama be jailed for blasphemy.

In addition to the Amin issue, Zurlia also felt disappointed with Widodo’s failure to make good on his political pledges. She highlighted Widodo’s promise to resolve cases of past human right violations.

Instead of resolving the cases, Widodo entrusted the matter to Wiranto as the Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam). Yet, said Zurlia, Wiranto himself stands accused of past gross human rights violations.

The former People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) chairperson has been linked with the attack on the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters on July 27, 1996, the Trisakti, Semanggi I and II student shootings in 1997-99, the abduction and disappearance of pro-democracy activists in 1997-98 and the Bloody Biak massacre in West Papua in 1998.

Wiranto was also cited in a special 92-page report released by the United Nations under the mandate of the Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor.

Zurlia also believes that Widodo is not serious about dealing with other past rights cases such as human rights abuses in the Mount Kendeng case involving a community fighting against a cement factory in Central Java.

This series of disappointments is what has made Zurlia choose to golput. According to Zurlia, golput is a political choice. So, like other political choices, she hopes that supporters of the presidential candidates will respect those who choose to golput.

Zurlia also said that Widodo’s supporters should not misinterpret a decision to golput. “When we declare we’ll golput it’s immediately assumed that we’ve become supporters of the other candidate Prabowo. This is back to front. Looking at it like that is wrong”, said Zurlia.

Speaking separately, public advocate Alghiffari Aqsa expressed the view that golput is a result of a group of people not trusting a candidate. In addition to this, the government and the House of Representatives (DPR) have joined together in creating regulations which minimise the choices of candidates.

“There is an aroma of an elite oligarchy increasingly locking up the system leaving no opportunities to nominate independent presidential candidates. The presidential threshold [the number of votes or seats needed to nominate a candidate] is also high”, said Aqsa.

Golput levels have been rising in every presidential election since 2004. Based on KPU data, during the first round of the 2004 presidential election golput stood at 21.8 percent, rising to 23.4 percent in the second round.

This rose again in the 2009 presidential elections reaching 28.3 percent. In the last presidential election in 2014, which also saw Widodo running against Prabowo, the golput figure rose to 29.01 percent. This figure included registered voters who did not go to polling stations (TPS) to vote.

Aqsa is convinced that the golput level in this year’s presidential election will be higher than in previous years. (chri/wis)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Cerita Warga Pilih Golput karena Jokowi Gandeng Ma’ruf Amin”.]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190123154016-32-363228/cerita-warga-pilih-golput-karena-jokowi-gandeng-maruf-amin