Senin, 17 Maret 2014

Election campaign, promises and reality

Election campaign, promises and reality

Imanuddin Razak  ;   A staff writer at The Jakarta Post
JAKARTA POST,  16 Maret 2014
A man is highly praised for his commitment to keeping promises. Yet, he is highly respected for translating those promises into actions.

As the nation is expecting the two-tier general election this year — a legislative election on April 9 and a subsequent presidential election in July — a person with these qualities will be sought after the most in the upcoming elections, when the nation chooses its future state leaders.

The results of the two elections, essentially a democratic mechanism to periodically change the country’s guards, are, therefore, expected by the public, who have long dreamed of a “rising Indonesia” following a yet convincing achievement after 15 years of reformasi.

Sunday is the beginning of the three-week open campaign period for individual candidates and all the 12 national political parties and the three local parties in Aceh contesting the upcoming April 9 legislative election. Such open campaign activities will involve, as usual, street rallies, mass gatherings and mass media advertisements.

Learning from past experiences, the general public will in the next 21 days  witness the candidates and the political parties’ election machineries promoting their mission statements and programs that they will work on if they are elected.

In the open campaign period,  mainly during mass gatherings and street rallies, candidates and their parties will be seen distributing T-shirts emblazoned with each candidate’s picture and the party he or she belongs to. The candidates and their parties also distribute money to whoever meets their invitation to attend the mass gatherings and/or participating in the street rallies they organize.

All of these deliverances of mission statements and programs, as well as the distribution of party attributes and money are part of the candidates’ and the parties’ strategies to lure the attention and eventually support from these potential voters on election day.

These kinds of activities will continue until the closing day of the open campaign period on April 5.

Yet, distribution of money apparently will not stop until the last minutes before the voters make it to the election booths to cast their votes. Testimonies by individuals and reports published in the media, which had long revealed this practice, have only confirmed that these individuals and parties want to make sure that the targeted voters really vote for them.

A repetition of such practices in this year’s general election will therefore be ironic in a country that has several times used democratic mechanisms to elect their representatives in the House of Representatives (DPR) at the national level and lower legislative councils at provincial and regency/municipal levels (DPRD). In reality, the organization of the five-yearly general election has been used as a “charity program” for Indonesians of the low-income brackets, obviously the easily targeted group of voters who will voluntarily vote for anyone or any party who “pays” them.

These individual candidates and their political parties have apparently been trapped, or perhaps intentionally have the intention, to keep the donation for vote practice intact.

Instead of thinking of “more elegant” ways of eradicating poverty and preparing programs, this targeted group of voters has been exploited for the sake of the candidates’ and the parties’ seasonal interest of securing legislative seats and winning the election.

In simple words: “Instead of empowering and providing a “fishing rod” for the poor to fish so that they can be financially independent, these candidates and political parties have opted to give them “bait” to swallow so that they will continuously be dependent on such a donation scheme.

Worse is the fact that the general election has been used by the candidates and parties as a seasonal mechanism for them to secure as many votes as possible and to win the election as a stepping stone to grab power.

Once they are in power, all of those heavenly mission statements and election promises will soon be forgotten and defeated by their personal interests and cravings for power.

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