Pradito Rida Pertana, Bantul – Taking place at the offices of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta, a group of activists have declared that they will golput – or abstain from voting – in the 2019 presidential election.
The group said that they were disappointed with incumbent presidential candidate President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and dislike rival candidate Prabowo Subianto.
The group, referring to itself as the Yogyakarta United People’s Struggle (KPR) stated that they would not use their right to vote or golput in the April 17 presidential election.
KPR Yogyakarta coordinator Feri Taufik said that they are taking a position of golput because the government of President Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla (Jokowi-JK) has yet to bring prosperity to the people and has instead created many conflicts.
“Under the Jokowi-JK regime, we have only seen the emergence of conflicts which harm the people, such as agrarian conflicts in various parts of the country, the mass dismissal of as many as 150,000 workers and other conflicts”, said Taufik at a press conference at the PBHI offices in the Bantul district of Yogyakarta on Friday April 5.
Aside from highlighting the conflicts during the Widodo administration, the KPR’s other reason for golput has been influenced by the track record of presidential ticket 02, Prabowo Subianto.
“(We won’t vote for) Prabowo because of his track record. He (Prabowo) is an actor who was involved with the New Order [dictatorship of former president Suharto] and we don’t want to see a return to the dark days of the New Order”, he said.
“Looking at these issues, on April 17 we declare that we will take a position of golput and that golput is also part of political education. We are calling on all people to return to seriously building an alternative political [force] for a better Indonesia”, added Taufik.
KPR Yogyakarta, continued Taufik, is made up of a number of social organisations (ormas) in Yogyakarta and has as many as 200 members.
Indonesian Student Union (SMI) chairperson Wasista Aji meanwhile said that he represents students who have also declared that they will golput. According to the Ahmad Dahlan University (UAD) student, they took the decision to golput because of disappointment with growing economic disparity under the Widodo administration.
“We reject voting because of disappointment with the growing inequality in Indonesia, moreover this has continued starting with the elections in the 1990s through to the last election in 2014”, he said.
PBHI Director Imam Joko Nugroho meanwhile said that everyone has the right to decide not to vote in April. In addition to this, if there are those that want to criminalise a person’s right to golput, the PBHI is ready to provide legal advocacy.
“This doesn’t mean inviting [people] to golput, yeah, but a declaration of golput or electing not to vote is a right and we will protect the rights of people who golput if they are criminalised”, he said in conclusion. (mbr/mbr)
Golput – Golongan Putih, 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. Under new electoral laws introduced in 2003, golput, defacing a ballot paper or simply not voting is no longer an electoral offence. Despite recent threats by government figures saying they will prosecute anyone calling on people to golput, according to the electoral law unless money or other enticements are offered, simply campaigning for or encouraging others not to vote is not in fact a criminal offense.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Kelompok Warga di Yogya Ini Nyatakan Akan Golput di Pilpres 2019”.]