The Funny Things About Elections in Indonesia

"Pilkada Serentak" - Concurrent election is hold
 in Indonesia today. Source image: ragamlampung.com
First of all, I would like to congratulate Indonesia, my beloved country for finally able to commence concurrent election today for the first time ever! Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world and the fifth most populous country. We have over 13,000 islands and 260 billions citizen. Regardless any problems we had during the preparation, I'm proud that we did it! It's such a meaningful momentum of democracy in t his country. I've used my right to vote this morning. If you're Indonesian and reading this post, have you vote?

The aim of the process is to find the next true "negarawan" (statesmen) - public figures with inspiring leadership, sincere servitude and reliable capabilities. The official results will most likely be announced by late December and I do pray may the best candidates win. Indonesia is currently in the changing state towards global development and these true negarawan are indeed in "high demand".

This time I would like to share some funny things about elections in Indonesia. For us Indonesian, these things are so common we no longer think they're funny. However foreigners may find these things below are "unusual" unless of course they happen in your country too!

Pilkada: Searching for the next leaders.
Source image: news.okezone.com
1. A large number of voters, especially in big cities, don't recognize the candidates. At all.
Yet they still go to the voting stations. We have several elections. This thing would rarely happen in presidential elections but other than that, happens all the time. If you eager to investigate and notice the chit chats amongst voters before they go into the election chamber, you'll hear baffling talks about who to choose. Most likely the candidates' agent provocateurs slide in during this moment and do their persuasive whispers.

2. "Serangan fajar" - Dawn Attack is money politic trick happens in the mornings before elections.
The voters are bribed with money. The amount is varied from IDR 50.000 (USD 5) to IDR 500.000 (IDR 50) per person. Some voters happily admit that they were bribed, some are too hypocrite to come out. It's illegal but nobody seems care to stop it. Although there's no single guarantee that within the chambers the voters will do vote for the candidates who bribe them, this action always happen. Well, it's the money baby!

3. In small towns, election day is celebrated like a festival.
Happens all the time in my hometown. There will be convoys of the election winner and big feast. Although I believe the defeated candidates won't do it.

4. Most voters do not acknowledge any of the candidates' programs.
Just like point number one, most voters come to the voting stations blank-minded. The candidates often promote their programs using elusive phrases and big words. They make tantalizing promises that will not necessarily be implemented  if they are elected. No wonder everybody become too bored to care.

Ethnicity is an important factor
that affects voters' choice in Indonesia.
Source img: heutebeautyacademy.com
5. Candidates' ethnicity & religion have bigger persuasive powers than programs they offer. 
Most voters will go for the candidates with the same religion or ethnicity with them. Names are usually the indicators here, for example a Joseph Lolong is a Manadonese guy (the family name sounds Manadonese) who's probably a Catholic. If the eyes look slanted, chances that he have Chinese ancestry. I'm not saying that we're racist, it's just an uncommon method to vote for a candidate.

Yes, it happens when there's only one single viable pair. Consequently the voters must vote whether they're agree or disagree for the pair to rule. If the majority of votes agreed, then the pair will be elected.

Sometimes even the opposite. This happened in 2014's presidential elections. There were only two pairs of candidates and these stations and institutions claimed both pairs won because their poll results said so.

8. Supporters of the candidates do not buy their chosen candidates or party's attributes.
The candidates provide them with t-shirts and many other attributes sometimes even money for gas and lunchboxes. Yet these supporters still call themselves "relawan" or volunteers. Candidates running for elections in Indonesia must be certain that they have ultra-strong financial backup because guaranteed they will spend A LOT.

9. We still vote manually. 
The spike use to perforate the ballot paper.
Image source: tribunnews.com
Yes, in this internet of things era, we still use papers for voting. This method is claimed to be more "budget friendly". Inside the election chamber, a voter is presented with a ballot paper and a spike. Yes, a spike. The voter must punch the spike onto the face of his / her chosen candidate. Even though this method has been implemented for decades, some people still DO NOT know how to do it properly and end up ruining their ballots and thwart their votes instead. A vote is claimed to be valid if the candidate's face is perforated on the ballot paper.

10. Copyrights infringements happen everywhere.
To lure the voters, candidates use as many possible ways. Music is one of the most powerful one. In my hometown, candidates issued extremely similar yells to the popular dangdut songs. Naturally the words are changed to suit the campaign purpose but no one can deny that those songs are traced from popular songs. I think they did it simply because people are already familiarized with the tunes.

That are 10 uncommon things about elections in Indonesia. I'm not intended to vilify elections process in Indonesia, I do support them indeed. Unfortunately just like many other process in the world, this ours are also flawed, no matter how hard we try our best. The most important point of this process is to fulfill the aim: finding the next true leaders.


Happy election day!