Indonesia language

In a matter of days Indonesia will undertake the most important single day exercise of democracy the planet has ever seen. The country’s 193 million voters will attend over 800,000 voting locations, travel by over 5.5 million election committee staffers, to elect 40,000 legislative representatives from over 250,000 candidates.

With the legislative and presidential elections being persisted an equivalent day, all eyes are on the presidential race, between incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin and Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno. Meanwhile, little attention is being paid to the competition over the 575 seats within the House of Representatives, never mind the regional and city level councils.

In 2013 the Constitutional Court ruled that beginning in 2019 the legislative and presidential elections were to be held simultaneously on an equivalent day to scale back “horse trading” or transactional alliances made among parties following the legislative elections. One only must check out the 2014 elections for an example of the transactional politics the ruling was referring to: after backing the losing Prabowo ticket, Golkar and therefore the United Development Party (PPP) later joined Jokowi’s coalition and were rewarded with ministerial appointments.

Time will tell if the simultaneous elections fulfill their purpose of reducing transactional politics. However, some legislative candidates aren’t expecting the election outcome, with candidates in areas hostile to their party’s presidential candidate going against their party’s alliance and openly supporting the opposing candidate.

It is vitally important to know what other potential effects holding the elections simultaneously has on the campaign and Indonesian politics more broadly. Altering the system for one purpose can cause unintended consequences.

Take Indonesia’s move from closed list to completely open list voting for legislative elections. This move was made to extend the directedness of democracy, with voters gaining more power over who was elected at the expense of the party hierarchies that nominate candidates.

However, researcher Marcus Mietzner in 2013 has shown this move coincided with a pointy drop by the party identification levels (how strongly a voter identifies with a selected party) among voters. Open list voting has led to more personalized and fewer party policy-based political campaigning, as candidates from not only opposing parties but also from within an equivalent party compete for votes. Research by Edward Aspinall and Ward Berenschot in 2019 shows this more personalized campaigning results in money politics, as individual candidates plan to secure voter support with bribes of money and goods.

So, what are a number of the unintended effects of the simultaneous elections? one among the expected effects is that the 2 presidential parties will make gains within the legislative elections, riding the “coat-tail” effect of the recognition and a spotlight the presidential candidates garner. One recent poll put the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP ) of the incumbent at 40 percent and Prabowo’s Gerindra at 25 percent, both up from the 2014 elections where they won 19 percent and 12 percent respectively.

That hasn’t stopped smaller parties attempting to harness the “coat-tail” effect. The Justice and Prosperous Party (PKS) feature Prabowo and Sandiaga very prominently on their legislative campaign banners, even more so than many Gerindra banners.

Who is scrutinizing the candidates vying for positions because the country’s lawmakers? it might appear not many.
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