Indonesia’s civil groups vow scrutiny of 2024 race

There has been rising concern over electoral fraud and the impartiality of the state apparatus ahead of next year's presidential and regional elections.

Nina A. Loasana

Nina A. Loasana

The Jakarta Post


Presidential and vice-presidential candidates pose after they obtain their race numbers at the General Elections Commission headquarters in Jakarta on November 14, 2023. PHOTO: ANTARA/ THE JAKARTA POST

November 17, 2023

JAKARTA – As the 2024 general election draws near, civil society organizations are ramping up their efforts to monitor the electoral process, urging the public to also play their part in ensuring a fair and transparent election.

There has been rising concern over electoral fraud and the impartiality of the state apparatus ahead of next year’s presidential and regional elections.

In December of last year, a group of civil society organizations reported 11 commissioners of the General Elections Commission (KPU) to the Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP) for allegedly manipulating data to allow four newcomer parties to contest the legislative election.

A member of the regional elections commission (KPUD) in the Sangihe Islands, North Sulawesi, was fired for the incident, but the parties involved are still cleared to run in the elections.

On Monday, some civil groups also reported the KPU to the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) for failing to ensure that 30 percent of candidates who contest the legislative election are women, as mandated by the 2017 Elections Law.

As per Nov. 1, the DKPP has received more than 280 reports of alleged electoral fraud and violations, including allegations that many Bawaslu members are affiliated with political parties.

Read also: Competitive three-horse race to succeed Jokowi is on

A recent scandal that embroiled the Constitutional Court, in which its chief justice Anwar Usman was found guilty of an ethics breach for using his position to sway a game-changing ruling on candidate eligibility for presidential elections, further deepened concerns over poll rigging. The ruling effectively enabled Anwar’s nephew-in-law, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s eldest son, to run for vice president.

Ramping up efforts

Kaka Suminta of the Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP) said he found the ethics violations at the Constitutional Court especially concerning as such a thing was unheard of in previous elections. The KIPP was one of around a dozen complainants which reported the justices to the court ethics council.

“It is very different from the usual vote-buying violations, or improper placement of campaign posters, which can be easily resolved at Bawaslu,” Kaka said on Tuesday.

“Allegations of electoral fraud that involve law manipulation at the court are much more serious and need to be monitored very closely because people will seek justice at the court when they encounter an election dispute,” he added.

With the rising concerns over election fraud, Kaka believes that educating the public about politics is key to ensuring fair and transparent elections and to lower the risk of cheating.

The KIPP, he said, was currently working with various institutions and universities to organize political education classes for the public ahead of the elections.

Read also: Gibran cleared to run despite controversy

Kahfi Adlan Hafiz of the election watchdog the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) said that his organization is currently mapping regions that are prone to election fraud.

“We are currently working with Bawaslu to monitor the electoral process. Mapping high-risk areas is very important so that we will be able to collect sufficient evidence when we encounter violations,” Kahfi said.

Perludem, he said, is also educating the public about forms of election rigging that have occurred in previous elections, such as vote buying, the spread of disinformation through social media and state apparatus partisanship.

Active role

Presidential and vice presidential candidates have reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring a fair election and called on the public to take an active role in monitoring the electoral process.

Comparing the elections to soccer games, National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman and vice presidential candidate Muhaimin Iskandar has asked the public “to shout at cheating players” and “report referees who double as players”.

“The elections are our country’s [biggest] gamble. If they are carried out objectively and legitimately, God willing, we will be able to continue developing the country smoothly. We don’t want to push back our democracy,” he said in a speech on Tuesday.

Read also: Jokowi claims neutrality at 2024 race luncheon

Gerindra Party chairman and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto concurred, saying that “honesty must be upheld” and committing election fraud means “betraying the country and its people”.

Ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo has urged other candidates and the public at large to maintain the spirit of the 1998 reform movement and to ensure that the elections are “free from corruption, collusion and nepotism”.

“Silence is not an option, we must report any violations and practices that will hurt our democracy,” he said.

Several political parties have aired their grievances over alleged partisan actions committed by the state apparatus.

The PDI-P has complained over the removal of Ganjar-Mahfud MD banners by local authorities in several regions, including Bali, a PDI-P stronghold, and accused the Surakarta Police of political intimidation after police personnel visited the party’s local chapter.

Read also: Megawati warns of election fraud

The PDI-P’s camp itself has appeared to be in hot water after an unconfirmed document went viral on social media containing a pledge by acting Sorong Regent Yan Piet Mosso to “seek support and votes” for Ganjar in the regency.

The document was signed by Brig. Gen. Tahan Sopian Parulian Silaban, head of the Papua office of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), an agency chaired by Budi Gunawan who has a strong relationship with PDI-P matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Ganjar’s running mate Mahfud dismissed accusations that such a pledge of support violated the neutrality principle of a civil servant.

Supporters of presidential candidate Anies Baswedan, who is running with Muhaimin, have reported West Java’s acting governor and the Presidential Secretariat’s deputy for protocol, Bey Machmuddin, to the Indonesian Ombudsman for canceling a discussion event in Bandung that Anies was supposed to attend.

Bey insisted that he does not want province-owned buildings to host political events, but on that same day, Jokowi’s youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, organized a political talk show at the state-owned Arcamanik Sports Venue, also in Bandung. (alf)

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